Candidates for Endangered Species List

Judith Lang & Lynton Land JandL at
Mon Feb 22 11:13:39 EST 1999

Re: the message from CORALations:
In fact an ecosystem approach to species conservation has been our
theoretical underpinning since about 20 years ago when the Gulf of Mexico
and South Atlantic Fishery Management Councils collaborated on a Fishery
Management Plan for Coral and Coral Reefs. The "management unit" here was
defined as being composed of about 400 species of fire corals, soft corals,
gorgonians, black corals and stony corals. At the time, declaring that its
maximum sustainable yield was "incalculable", and that its principal value 
was in "nonconsumptive uses" certainly was an unusual approach to fishery

By and large "management for conservation" is working at what is now the
Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary (where, incidentally, all
types of fishing except with hook-and-lines has also been prohibited since
1992). Stony corals have shown no significant changes in cover, species
diversity, species evenness or growth rates since the early 1970's, despite
their location near active petroleum platforms in the Northwestern Gulf of
Mexico [see review of SR Gittings, TJ Bright and DK Hagman, 1994, pp.
181-187 in RN Ginsburg, (compiler), Proc. Colloquium on Global Aspects of
Coral Reefs: Health, Hazards and History]. 

Sadly, the subsequent history of many reefs in the Florida Keys, where both
natural and anthropogenic stresses are considerably greater than 200 km
offshore Texas, has been less fortunate. Hence, it seems to me that we
should continue to CREATIVELY invoke all available legal options --including
the endangered species act, with its provisions for habitat
acquisition/protection/restoration --as surely, in the long run, that will
only help conserve coral reefs and associated ecosystems.

Judy Lang

>From: "CORALations" <corals at>
>To: "Coral-List" <coral-list at>
>Subject: Re: Acropora spp. - Candidates for Endangered Species List
>Date: Mon, Feb 22, 1999, 8:58 AM

>Based on what we know about the interconnectedness of species in such an
>ecosystem, how can we still be selecting individual species for protection
>and ignoring others...For example..saying Acropora would qualify as
>endangered due to declines throughout the Caribbean does not provide
>sollutions for impacts to other species of coral that result from this
>decline. Could reef scientists  possibly make rational arguments for
>considering the entire ecosystem as endangered ...including commercially
>valuable fish and shellfish which play a role in nutrient distribution and
>recycling etc.? 
>It seems that the way these systems have evolved is more complicated than
>mere % distributions of individual species and if we are going to spend
>time and energy trying to protect them could we possibly shoot for a
>legislative solution which effectively recognizes this?   
>I have concerns about scientists becoming too conservative in the manner in
>which they convey impacts to the reef in an effort to propell small, less
>constroversial solutions to society when these solutions may simply not be
>effective. Look how we've bungled and continue to bungle marine fishery
>legislation in order to propell small paletable bits of legislation often
>too little, too late...rarely complied to or enforced.  
>"The problems we have today, will not be solved by thinking the way we
>thought when we created them"....  Albert Einstein 

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