[Coral-List] 82 Corals Status Review under the US Endangered Species Act
douglasfenner at yahoo.com
Mon Jun 25 18:54:27 EDT 2012
I noticed one sentence in this message that I feel has to be responded to. It is:
"Many greens and environmental extremist of course would
likely be happy with any action that curbs individual freedom and
First, on the face of it, do you seriously think that "greens and environmental extremist of course would likely be happy with ANY action that curbs individual freedom and free enterprise."?? ANY action? Like cancelling free speech or freedom of religion or the other rights in the Bill of Rights?? Not likely.
Even without the "any" in this statement, a little refection will reveal some flaws with it.
I contend that no matter what governments choose, they inevitably have to curb someone's freedom. Take air pollution, and look at the choices. Government can let anyone and everyone release any pollutants into the air that they want. That's what they used to do, before the killing fog of London, and the smoky air of the US, and the time when the air pollution in Tokyo was so bad that there were oxygen vending machines on the sidewalk for those who were having trouble breathing. The air has been cleaned up in all three of those locations, by the government taking away the freedom of polluters to release pollution into the air. Now the air of Tokyo is so clear you can't even see it, and you don't even think of it as you walk around. Cities like Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, which where the buildings were black from all the soot in the air, are now clean and sparkling. But big corporations lost the freedom to pollute the air. On the other hand,
when polluters are allowed to pollute freely, the citizens don't have the right to breathe clean air. It is not just ugly when you can see the smog over a city, it also is harmful to health, and increases the number of people with health problems and even contributes to deaths. There is a rule that the US EPA is about to establish that will require utility companies to reduce the amount of mercury that they release in smoke stacks, primarily of coal fired electric plants. The best science says it will save a few thousands of lives a year and reduce health problems in 10's of thousands of people or more. All that costs money, which the public has to pay, but which the big companies don't pay. So it hurts company profits, but can save lives. There is often a choice between lives and profits. If the cost of health care is included, such laws may even save society as a whole money. Sure, some big corporations may loose some profits. In
fact, cleaning up the air in London, the US, and Tokyo didn't destroy the economy of any of these places.
So yes, controlling pollution does take away the freedom of polluters to pollute and reduces their profits, but it also gives millions of people the right to breath clean air.
Either choice you make, somebody looses freedoms. There is no way out of it, there is no choice that doesn't restrict somebody, even anarchy restricts the freedom of those people that are killed or otherwise hurt by those that are not restricted since in anarchy these is no government to control people. Those societies that can afford to, generally choose clean air.
Similar choices are present for problems like water pollution, ecosystem destruction, etc.
So to me it looks like your statement is a good "sound bite" and good propaganda, as long as people don't think of all the consequences of the choices.
From: Eugene Shinn <eshinn at marine.usf.edu>
To: coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
Sent: Wednesday, June 13, 2012 3:16 AM
Subject: [Coral-List] 82 Corals Status Review under the US Endangered Species Act
Dear Listers, It is good to see people involved and thinking
about the proposed 82 species listing. Nevertheless, it remains
difficult to see how listing and an additional tangle of
unenforceable regulations will prevent extinction especially in areas
already governed by multiple agencies with overlapping authority..
Where is the evidence that any of these species will become extinct
if not listed? Corals have already survived millions of years of
change and will be here when we are gone.
I agree with Doug Fenner, that some, most likely all of the 82
species will be listed as "threated" rather than "endangered."
However, threatened does not mean there are no consequences. The
required next step after listing as threatened is to create "Zones of
Critical Habitat." That step is a difficult highly political chore
that may have unintended impacts. One should ask, "Who will determine
the Critical Habitat Zones?" Will it be an agency that can then
squeeze more money from congress to comply with the act?
When Acropora was listed as threatened, a secret committee,
called a recovery team (July 10-11, 2007), drew up the Critical
Habitat Zones. I say secret but it was really a closed committee.
They were all biologists. As a geologist/biologist having published
on Acropora growth rates, and its distribution on the sea floor and
subsurface, (including periods of previous demise), for more than
50-years I naturally thought I would be included in the "team." I was
not included and was told I could not sit in on the proceedings as an
observer. The reply from the person in charge was, ". So,
unfortunately, it seems as though we are not allowed to have
non-members of the team attend the meetings. The deal is the
Recovery Teams are exempt from the Federal Advisory Committee Act so
they can give the Federal govt advice. The team members are
specifically invited by the Assistant Administrator of NMFS. Sorry..."
That decision seemed a violation of the Florida Sunshine law so
I threatened to crash the meeting that was being held on a Federal
facility on Virginia Key. I then received a legalistic letter saying
the meeting was restricted to selected people. The exact words were,
"The Florida State Sunshine Law has no applicability to our action
since this is a federal team. I am sorry, but we must maintain
closed meetings to keep the team FACA exempt." At the time I was a
recently retired government employee (USGS) of the dept. of Interior
and was serving on the Mineral Management Service Science Advisory
Committee. As a Federal function we were required by law to provide
space for private citizens. Ironically, I had been working on coral
reef issues including groundwater, sewage disposal, and water quality
issues in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary and Everglades
National Park. I had recently published a paper questioning the need
for listing but while still a government employee I was unable to
express my views publically. As many of you know government agency
employees are prohibited from making legal/political comments about
such matters. Billy Causey, as he correctly noted in his posting, was
obeying that rule. I agree with everything Billy said and he is
correct. Water quality in the Florida Keys has improved. I worked on
that issue for more than 10 years and deepening of sewage disposal
wells in the Keys was mandated as a result of our findings.
Now back to the Critical Habitat Issue. NOAA/Marine Fisheries
did in fact create critical habitat zones but they included near
shore areas around the Marquesas where previous research showed the
species never lived and probably never will. The reason was, and
remains, tidal influx of green frigid Gulf of Mexico waters. In
addition, coring at nearby New Ground Shoal and Ellis Rock revealed
these 25-foot-thick reefs had never included Acropora when they were
growing. A thermograph planted there showed influx of water during
the winter is too cold for Acropora growth. It is nevertheless part
of the Critical Habitat Zone.
In addition, Acroporid corals did not build the extensive and
much thicker Tortugas reefs even though staghorn has historically
flourished there in the past. Staghorn thickets at Tortugas were
eliminated by the severe cold-water event in 1977 (Davis 1982). The
black water event had previously killed them in 1878. We never found
them in our cores that penetrated the entire Holocene reefs. To their
credit the committee did eliminate the Quicksands, a 20-mile-long
area of mobile Halimeda underwater sand dunes west of the Marquesas.
It is a Navy bombing practice range considered necessary for national
What will happen when critical habitats, that by law, have to be
created for the 82 species? Who will do it? If we consider just the 8
Caribbean species, and their distribution, the results could be
complex, far reaching, and may have negative economic impacts. Would
tour guides and dive charter boat businesses be impacted? What about
boat and outboard motor manufactures, and dealers? Will mooring buoys
be removed if combustion engine powered boats and sport divers are
banned? There would be no need for them. What about sunscreen and
effects on that industry? NOAA is after all under the dept. of
commerce. Will aerial mosquito spraying of toxic pesticides be
banned? Everyone knows it affects marine life in the Keys. The
pivotal word here is commerce! Remember NOAA is part of the dept. of
Commerce. Many greens and environmental extremist of course would
likely be happy with any action that curbs individual freedom and
free enterprise. So, be careful what you wish for. There may be
As a final note I ask, why were Millipora species (common name
fire coral) not proposed for listing? Those species bleach and die
along with nearby corals. Millipora's encrusting and bonding action
helps cement corals together providing greater resistance to
hurricane waves. Millipora is certainly more vital to coral reef
integrity and survival than is Dendrogyra, Dichocoenia,
Mycetophyllia, and Agaricia. Why were these corals considered
important enough for listing? Gene
Davis, G. E.,1982, A century of natural change in coral distribution
at the Dry Tortugas: a comparison of reef maps from 1881 and 1976.
Bulletin of Marine Science, v. 32, pp. 608-623.
No Rocks, No Water, No Ecosystem (EAS)
E. A. Shinn, Courtesy Professor
University of South Florida
College of Marine Science Room 221A
140 Seventh Avenue South
St. Petersburg, FL 33701
<eshinn at marine.usf.edu>
Tel 727 553-1158----------------------------------
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