[Coral-List] Impact of listing 66 coral species on coral research

Douglas Fenner douglasfennertassi at gmail.com
Fri Dec 14 14:42:36 EST 2012

Regarding the last point,
    Yes of course it is conceivable that entire reef systems in the USA
will be placed off limits to all human activity, including swimming and
sitting on the beach, or even looking at the water.  But that takes quite a
stretch of imagination.  Why do people think it is going to be radically
different from sea turtles??  All sea turtles are listed under the
Endangered Species Act, and hawksbills are listed as Endangered.  Yet I
swim with them any time I want to, and I do my monitoring and research, and
no body bothers me or cares.  Thousands of tourists swim daily with sea
turtles in Hawaii, so close you could pet them.  Fishermen fish on the
reef, there is boating in the same waters as the turtles.  But none of them
require permits.  Why?  Because none of them damage or endanger the
turtles.  Commercial fishermen fishing for swordfish or tuna, if they catch
a turtle, there is a very real problem, and the Fisheries Council works
with the federal agencies and the fishermen to come up with ways of fishing
to minimize turtle interactions, and they have gotten an exemption.  Is it
so hard to imagine that a similar thing is most likely with corals?  Those
whose activities have no effects on the endangered coral are likely to be
allowed to continue without even a need for a permit.  Those whose
activities may impact the corals will need permits.  Some kinds of
activities that cause significant damage to the corals may not be given
permits, such as the dredging of live corals in Majuro, or other
construction projects.  That is, IF they impact any of the 66 species.  If
they only impact other species of coral, endangered species act is not
      Although the 2 species of Acropora in the western Atlantic were
listed several years ago, I have heard no horror stories of Federal agents
shutting down research on those species.  As Mark Tupper says, listing
tends to draw scientists to work on them, since everyone realizes that they
are important.
      The way I read the message below, from one of the Federal managers,
appears to me to be consistent with that view.  No Federal Nazis in sight,
as far as I can see.
      Cheers,  Doug

Eli and All,
For those of you who do not know me, I am one of the NOAA Fisheries staff
leads on the proposed coral listings.  I understand that this proposal to
list the 66 species of corals in the Caribbean and Indo-Pacific basins
brings many questions and uncertainty, so let me reiterate some of the
points I identified in my message last week.

   1. This is a proposed rule, so nothing changes during the year between
   the proposed rule and the final rule.
   2. The majority (54) of the 66 species are being proposed as
   threatened.  Even if all of those species are ultimately listed, none of
   the ESA prohibitions apply unless we make a separate rule to extend the
   prohibitions.  Meaning research and restoration activities proceed as
   3. For the species that are proposed as endangered - if they are
   ultimately listed, an ESA Research and Enhancement Permit will be
   for anyone conducting research or restoration on the species that
   collection, harm, injury, or mortality within the waters US.  A permit
   also be required for importation of legally-collected specimens from
   outside the US.

It is one of our top priorities to work with the research, restoration, and
permitting communities to ensure that this additional permitting process
does not impact activities that are critical to the recovery of listed
species. We will be investigating streamlining opportunities and other ways
to meet the goals of the ESA with minimal impact on activities that support
recovery. We also encourage anyone conducting research or restoration on a
proposed endangered species to contact the NOAA Fisheries Office of
Protected Resources to begin the permitting process during this period
between proposed and final listing.  General information on the permitting
process for research and enhancement is located at

One last topic that I'd like to cover is the proposed reclassification of
Acropora palmata and Acropora cervicornis from threatened to endangered.
Everything I said above about proposed endangered species applies to the
two currently-listed acroporids.  If they are ultimately listed as
endangered, the existing "4(d) rule" that allowed exceptions for research
and restoration activities will no longer be applicable.  It is my priority
to ensure that the critical research and restoration activities that are
assisting recovery continue.

If you have any questions, feel free to contact me or one of my colleagues
in the NOAA Fisheries Pacific Islands Region - lance.smith at noaa.gov or
chelsey.young at noaa.gov

*Jennifer Moore
ESA Coral Coordinator | Protected Resources Division
NOAA Fisheries Service
263 13th Ave South
Saint Petersburg, FL 33701727-551-5797 phone |  727-824-5309 <727-824-5309>
faxjennifer.moore at noaa.gov


To those who sacrificed careers of adventure in the wide-open spaces
to wrestle for conservation in the policy arena.*

On Thu, Dec 13, 2012 at 7:44 AM, Karsten Shein <kshein at yahoo.com> wrote:

> Hi  Gene,
> "So explain how listing will prevent extinction."
> The answer, at least in my mind is that the ESA cannot prevent extinction
> of any listed species.  What I believe it can do is reduce some of the
> controllable factors that are contributing to the decline of the species.
> It can make it extremely difficult for those who would negatively impact
> the species or its supporting ecosystem by their actions from doing so
> anywhere within U.S. jurisdiction (not just within an MPA).  For example,
> in the case of these corals, the ESA could be used to prevent dredging a
> reef or to halt shoreline development that has no containment controls for
> sediment runoff.  For example, had any listed species been present on the
> Majuro reefs that were dredged for the airport, at the least the FAA would
> not have been able to use the dredged material, and at best the Compact of
> Free Association may have (I don't know) prevented the dredging in the
> first place.  Of course, a possible Draconian consequence of the ESA is
> that large
>  sections of reef could conceivably be placed off limits to all human
> activity (boating, snorkeling, diving, fishing, even research).
> Karsten
> -- Opinions expressed are my own. --
> _______________________________________________
> Coral-List mailing list
> Coral-List at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
> http://coral.aoml.noaa.gov/mailman/listinfo/coral-list

Dept. Marine & Wildlife Resources, American Samoan Government
PO Box 7390
Pago Pago, American Samoa 96799  USA

More information about the Coral-List mailing list