[Coral-List] UPDATE: ESA Threatened Corals

Sarah Heberling Sarah.Heberling at noaa.gov
Mon Mar 17 10:38:36 EDT 2008

Hello All -

Just an update on recent happenings related to elkhorn and staghorn 
corals, which were recently listed as "threatened" under the Endangered 
Species Act (ESA).

Last week, Jennifer Moore and I completed the round of public comment 
hearings for the proposed critical habitat designations for threatened 
elkhorn and staghorn corals.  For those of you that were able to 
participate in these hearings, thank you!  Your involvement, interest, 
and concern are greatly appreciated!  For those of you unable to make it 
to the hearings, the presentation given by Jennifer and me is now 
available on our website 

The critical habitat proposal was published in the Federal Register on 
February 6, 2008 and the public comment period ends on May 6, 2008.  
Please refer to the /Federal Register/ notice for instructions on 
submitting comments on the proposed rule and on the draft 4(b)(2) 
Impacts report, which details the economic impacts of designating 
critical habitat 

Once the public comment period closes for the proposed critical habitat 
designations, Jennifer and I will reviewing all comments and evaluating 
whether changes to the proposal are necessary.  We have a court-ordered 
date for finalizing critical habitat for these species, which is 
November 30, 2008.

_*4(d) RULE*_
On December 14, 2008, NOAA Fisheries Service published proposed ESA 4(d) 
Regulations for threatened corals, which would prohibit "take" of these 
species, as it is defined by the ESA.  The public comment period for 
this proposal ended on March 13, 2008.  Now that the public comment 
period for the proposed 4(d) rule has closed, Jennifer and I will go 
through the same review and evaluation process as described for the 
critical habitat rule for all comments received.  A final 4(d) rule will 
be published in the /Federal Register /and all comments will be 
addressed in the final rule.  More information on this proposal is 
available on our website (http://sero.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/esa/acropora.htm).

Recovery planning for these two species has already begun.  A 17-person 
recovery team was appointed last year and the team has met twice 
already.  Members of the recovery team represent governmental agencies, 
non-governmental organizations, and user groups at the local, 
State/Territorial, and Federal levels.  A week long writing workshop is 
planned for this September and it is hoped that the draft recovery plan 
resulting from that workshop will be available for public comment in 
late winter.  The recovery plan serves as a road map for species 
recovery -- it lays out where we need to go and how best to get there 
through prioritized site-specific recovery actions.

If you have questions or concerns about anything related to these two 
threatened corals, please do not hesitate to contact either Jennifer 
(Jennifer.Moore at noaa.gov) or me (Sarah.Heberling at noaa.gov). 

If you would _not_ like to receive future updates on threatened elkhorn 
and staghorn corals or if you would like to update your contact 
information, please email me.


Sarah E. Heberling
Natural Resource Specialist
Protected Resources Division
NOAA Fisheries Service
263 13th Avenue South
St. Petersburg, FL 33701
Phone: (727) 824-5312
Fax: (727) 824-5309
Email: Sarah.Heberling at noaa.gov
Web: http://sero.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/esa/acropora.htm

"What good is a used up world; and how could it be worth having?"

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