[Coral-List] Announcement: NOAA lists two species of Atlantic/Caribbean corals as threatened
Roger.B.Griffis at noaa.gov
Mon May 8 14:09:02 EDT 2006
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - May 5, 2006
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) 06-R110
Contact: Kim Amendola – NOAA (727) 551-5707
ELKHORN AND STAGHORN CORALS LISTED IN THREATENED STATUS
NOAA hosting public information workshops in south Florida and Caribbean
NOAA Fisheries Service announced its decision yesterday to list elkhorn
(Acropora palmata) and staghorn corals (Acropora cervicornis) as
threatened under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The final rule will
be published next week, and the listing will be effective 30 days after
that date. This will be the first time a coral has been listed as
endangered or threatened under the ESA. A species is considered
endangered if it is in danger of extinction throughout all or a
significant portion of its range. A species is considered threatened if
it is likely to become an endangered species within the foreseeable
In response to a formal petition, a status review was initiated by NOAA
Fisheries Service to determine whether these corals required ESA
listing. The fisheries service convened the Atlantic Acropora
Biological Review Team in June 2004. The members of this team are a
diverse group of experts including coral biologists and ecologists;
specialists in climate, water quality and coral disease, monitoring,
restoration and taxonomy; regional experts in coral
abundance/distribution throughout the Caribbean Sea; and state and
federal resource managers.
The results of the team’s 10-month review led to the determination that
a threatened listing was warranted for both elkhorn and staghorn corals
because they are likely to become in danger of extinction throughout all
of their ranges in the foreseeable future from a combination of factors.
The primary factors include disease, temperature-induced bleaching,
and physical damage from hurricanes. Other factors include damage from
commercial and recreational activities, sediments and contaminants from
land-based sources, and poor water quality.
“This is the first time a coral species has been listed as threatened
in the United States,” said Assistant Administrator for NOAA Fisheries
Service Bill Hogarth. “As we look ahead, NOAA Fisheries Service is
committed to recovering these species, but we cannot do that without
help and participation from our constituents and resource users.”
Yesterday the U.S. Coral Reef Task Force recognized the Atlantic
Acropora Biological Review Team for its dedication and efforts in
compiling, editing and completing the status review for elkhorn and
staghorn corals by presenting team members with an Outstanding
Management award at the task force team meeting in Washington, D.C.
To gather information from the public, constituents, and resource
users, the fisheries service will host seven conservation workshops
throughout May. The workshops are designed to seek input from
participants to help identify programs and activities that may affect
these species, physical and biological features essential for
conservation, and possible areas to designate as critical habitat.
These workshops are intended to be constructive brainstorming sessions
where all interested members of the public are encouraged to attend and
participate. The information gathered during these workshops will be
considered in the development of any future conservation measures.
Workshops will be held between May 8 and May 25. More information on
time, date and location of the workshops is available online, and
regional announcements have been distributed. Comments and suggestions
can also be submitted to NOAA Fisheries Service’s Southeast Regional
Office via mail, fax, or email by Friday, June 22, 2006.
Elkhorn and staghorn corals are of the genus Acropora. Acropora is the
most abundant group of corals in the world and once represented the most
dominant reef building species throughout Florida and the Caribbean.
They are found typically on shallow water reefs, live in high-energy
zones with a lot of wave action, and are found in water temperatures
from 66 to 86 degrees Fahrenheit. They have relatively high growth rates
for corals and exhibit branching morphologies that provide important
habitat for other reef organisms; no other Caribbean reef-building coral
species are able to fulfill these ecosystem functions. At the current
reduced abundance, it is highly likely that both these ecosystem
functions have been greatly compromised.
NOAA Fisheries Service is dedicated to protecting and preserving our
nation’s living marine resources and their habitats through scientific
research, management and enforcement. NOAA Fisheries Service provides
effective stewardship of these resources for the benefit of the nation,
supporting coastal communities that depend upon them, and helping to
provide safe and healthy seafood to consumers and recreational
opportunities for the American public.
NOAA, an agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce, is dedicated to
enhancing economic security and national safety through the prediction
and research of weather and climate-related events and providing
environmental stewardship of the nation's coastal and marine resources.
Through the emerging Global Earth Observation System of Systems
(GEOSS), NOAA is working with its federal partners, over 60 countries
and the European Commission to develop a global network that is as
integrated as the planet it observes, predicts and protects.
On the Web:
Conservation Workshop Information http://sero.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/protres.htm
(Click on Acropora Conservation Workshop Announcement)
Elkhorn Coral (Acropora palmata) Image
Staghorn Coral (Acroporoa cervicornis) Image
Elkhorn and Staghorn Coral Information
Endangered Species Act http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/laws/esa.htm
NOAA Coral Reef Conservation Program
U.S. Coral Reef Task Force
More information about the Coral-List