[Coral-List] Announcement: NOAA lists two species of Atlantic/Caribbean corals as threatened

Roger.B.Griffis Roger.B.Griffis at noaa.gov
Mon May 8 14:09:02 EDT 2006

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) 06-R110

Contact:	Kim Amendola – NOAA (727) 551-5707		
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:

NOAA www.noaa.gov

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

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