listing coral

Jamie D. Bechtel warrior at
Tue Apr 6 23:30:55 EDT 1999

Hello all - I received this email and it seemed appropriate to forward it
given the recent debate over the listing of Acropora palmata and A.
cervicornis. A petition to list the two species is well on its way and the
outcome seems promising. However, scientific evidence will strenghten the
petition. Please respond directly to Brent Plater at
platerb at Note that comments are being accepted until April
15. Brent has included an explanation of what type of information is
necessary and a copy of the petitition.  


>My name is Brent Plater, and I am a law and public policy graduate student
>studying at UC Berkeley and Harvard.  As you know, the populations of
>Acropora palmata (elkhorn coral) and Acropora cervicornis (staghorn coral)
>are in critical condition.  From my initial research, it appears that if
>these species are not legally protected soon, they may face extinction.  I
>am therefore submitting a petition to NMFS to list these species as
>endangered under the Endangered Species Act.
>In order to make sure that this petition is based on the best scientific
>and commercial data available (which is the basis for determination under
>the Endangered Species Act) I am writing this list to find out if anyone is
>interested in supporting this petition.  Support is needed in two ways:
>first, I need scientists who are familiar with these species to write
>letters in support of the petition.  These letters will be submitted with
>the petition.  Second, if anyone has any documentation (including
>references to articles in the scientific literature) documenting the life
>history, population decline, current population size and range, etc. please
>e-mail me the title, author, and where it was published so that I may
>retrieve the information.
>This petition has a very good chance at being successful because NMFS is
>already considering legal protection for these species. On Jan 15, 1999
>NMFS published in the Federal Register a notice that it was considering
>these species (among others) for the Endangered Species Act candidate
>species list.  FYI, the Jan. 15 publication is attached below.
>Finally, if you know of any additional species of coral or other marine
>species that are in need of protection, please let me know so we can
>discuss whether listing under the ESA would be appropriate for those
>species as well.
>Thank you for your help and if you have any further questions feel free to
>contact me at 617-491-8946.
>Very truly yours,
>Brent Plater
>1039 Massachusetts Ave. # 202
>Cambridge, MA 02138
>platerb at
>[Federal Register: January 15, 1999 (Volume 64, Number 10)]
>[Page 2629-2630]
>>From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access []
>National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
>[I.D. 011199C]
>Endangered and Threatened Species; Request for Information on
>Candidate Species List Under the Endangered Species Act
>AGENCY: National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and
>Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce.
>ACTION: Request for information for revision of candidate species list.
>SUMMARY: NMFS solicits information on marine and anadromous species
>that may qualify as candidates for possible addition to the List of
>Endangered and Threatened Species, including information on the status
>of species currently classified as candidate species. This notice is
>not a proposal for listing; candidate species do not receive
>substantive or procedural protection under the Endangered Species Act
>of 1973 (ESA). The goal of the candidate species program is to identify
>marine and anadromous species as candidates for possible addition to
>the List of Endangered and Threatened Species and encourage voluntary
>efforts to help prevent listings.
>DATES: Comments will be accepted until April 15, 1999.
>ADDRESSES: Comments and documentation for these and any recommended
>additions or deletions to the candidate species list should be sent to
>Chief, Endangered Species Division, Office of Protected Resources,
>NMFS, 1315 East-West Highway, Silver Spring, MD 20910.
>FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Marta Nammack or Terri Jordan at
>SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The ESA requires determinations of whether
>species of wildlife and plants are endangered or threatened, based on
>the best available scientific and commercial data. ``Species'' includes
>any species or subspecies of fish, wildlife, or plant, and any distinct
>population segment of any vertebrate species that interbreeds when
>mature (vertebrate population). NMFS and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife
>Service share responsibilities under the ESA. With some exceptions,
>NMFS is responsible for species that reside all or the major portion of
>their lifetime in marine or estuarine waters. The regulations
>implementing Section 4 of the ESA (49 FR 38900, October 1, 1984) define
>``candidate'' as ``any species being considered by the Secretary for
>listing as an endangered or a threatened species, but not yet the
>subject of a proposed rule.''
>    The four main purposes of the candidate species list are to (1)
>Increase public awareness about these species; (2) identify those
>species that may be in need of protective measures under the ESA, and
>if possible, recover them before listing under the ESA becomes
>necessary; (3) stimulate voluntary conservation efforts by Federal
>agencies and other appropriate parties with regard to these species;
>and (4) identify uncertainties associated with the status of the
>species. As resources permit, NMFS conducts a review of the status of
>each candidate species to determine if it warrants listing as
>endangered or threatened under the ESA. Sometimes, even though NMFS may
>determine after conducting a status review that a species does not
>warrant listing under the ESA, NMFS may retain the species on the
>candidate species list due to remaining concerns or uncertainties. NMFS
>believes it is important to highlight species for which listing may be
>warranted so that Federal and state agencies, Native American tribes,
>and the private sector are aware of which species could benefit from
>proactive conservation efforts. Agencies and other appropriate parties
>can take candidate species into account in project planning, which may
>lower the likelihood of an ESA listing.
>    NMFS has developed specific criteria for determining which species/
>vertebrate populations should be included on the NMFS candidate species
>list. These criteria are based on the requirement for reliable
>information on the biological status of a species or vertebrate
>    Biological status is determined by both demography and genetic
>composition of the species/vertebrate population. If there is evidence
>of demographic or genetic concerns that would indicate that listing may
>be warranted, the species/vertebrate population should be added to the
>candidate species list. Demographic concerns would occur when there is
>a significant decline in abundance or range from historical levels that
>would indicate that listing may be warranted. This could result from
>activities such as over-harvest, habitat degradation, disease
>outbreaks, predation, natural climatic conditions, and hatchery
>operations that negatively impact natural stocks. Genetic concerns that
>would indicate that listing may be warranted include outbreeding and
>inbreeding depression resulting from poor hatchery practices or
>substantially reduced numbers of natural individuals.
>    If you wish to propose that a species/vertebrate population be
>designated as a candidate species, please submit available information,
>including: (1) Taxonomic validity of the species, subspecies or
>vertebrate population; (2) life history; (3) historic and current
>population size and distribution; (4) assessment of confirmed and
>likely threats and declines; (5) existing laws, regulations, agreements
>and other protective mechanisms; and (6) documentation of information
>used to justify their proposal.
>    The previous list was published on July 14, 1997, (62 FR 37560).
>NMFS intends to consider the results of ongoing status reviews and all
>data received in response to this notice to make appropriate amendments
>to the list. Some of the species NMFS is considering adding to the
>candidate species list are the largetooth sawfish (Pristis pristis),
>smalltooth sawfish (Pristis pectinata), barndoor skate (Raja laevis),
>elkhorn coral (Acropora palmata), staghorn coral (Acropora
>cervicornis), and four gastropods that are possibly extinct:
>``Collisella'' edmitchelli, Lottia alveus alveus, Cerithidea fuscata,
>and Phyllaplysia smaragda.
>    It is important to note that the candidate species list is limited
>by the information available. Therefore, it does
>[[Page 2630]]
>not encompass all declining marine and anadromous species that may
>warrant listing in the future. Moreover, inclusion of a species on the
>candidate species list does not create a higher listing priority for
>that species. As appropriate, NMFS may initiate a status review for any
>species or vertebrate population of concern, regardless of whether it
>is a candidate species, and the public may petition to list any species
>or vertebrate population.
>    Dated: January 12, 1999.
>Ann D. Terbush,
>Acting Director, Office of Protected Resources, National Marine
>Fisheries Service.
>[FR Doc. 99-1011 Filed 1-14-99; 8:45 am]
Jamie D. Bechtel
Boston University
Department of Biology
Five Cummington Street
Boston, MA 02215

Boston College Law School
255 Centre Street
Newton, MA 02159

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