[Coral-List] Impact of listing 66 Species on Coral research

Jennifer Moore - NOAA Federal jennifer.moore at noaa.gov
Mon Dec 17 08:39:32 EST 2012

I will try to clarify the "backstory" on Acropora and any reclassification
of a species.  We evaluated the status of Acropora palmata and Acropora
cervicornis starting in 2003 and finalized our decision to list them as
threatened in 2006.  To understand the basis for that decision, you can
read the final listing rule at the website
http://sero.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/pdf/71FR266852_Acropora_Final_Listing.pdf.  As
part of the current status review of the petitioned 82 species, we felt it
would be prudent to re-evaluate the status of the two listed acroporids
given the time that had elapsed since listing and the wealth of new
information being compiled during the status review.  We evaluated Apal and
Acer with the same "determination tool" by which we evaluated the status of
the other 82 corals.  Based on that evaluation the two species qualify as
endangered and not threatened.  as I have stated previously, there is a
difference in the imminence of the extinction risk between an endangered
species and a threatened species.  Based on all the information that we
have on the acroporids, we have determined that they are now in currently
in danger of extinction, whereas in 2006 we determined they were likely to
be in danger\ of extinction withing the foreseeable future.  To read the
full basis for these two species see page 35 of the proposed listing rule
at the website

Because we had extended all the prohibitions of the ESA, with exception for
research and restoration to the two acroporids through a "4d rule" in 2008,
there is little regulatory difference between their current threatened
status and proposed endangered status.  However, that is not something we
can consider when determining a species status.  The only thing we can
consider is if the species meets the definition of threatened or the
definition of endangered.   We can not weigh the pros and cons of a
particular status versus the other.  The species is endangered or it is
threatened or it is neither.

As to the places where the species do not seem to be doing
poorly...wonderful!  That is what we hope, so that we have the potential to
recover the species.  If there were no such places left, then all hope
would be lost.  But because the purpose of the ESA is to recover species,
we do need to look to place where the species appear to be doing well and
understand the conditions that support it.  However, just because a
particular location appears to be healthy or growing does not mean that the
species is not at risk throughout its range.  And for invertebrates, we
must consider the status of the species through all or a significant
portion of its range.

On Sun, Dec 16, 2012 at 5:02 PM, Jon Skrapits
<jon at treasurecoastcorals.com>wrote:

> Jennifer:
> Than you VERY much. This is quite helpful.
> As Samuel Clemens said, I believe, "No good deed shall go unpunished" - so
> I'll ask another question if I may. Regarding moving Acropora from
> "threatened" to "endangered", I assume this is because it has been
> perceived that it has gotten closer to extinction. What might the potential
> down-sides be with respect to our ability to try to understand the
> habitat-level issues that are in play. As I mentioned earlier, there are
> places where Acropora appears to not know it's supposed to be rare. This
> may be an academic issue because they are outside the US, but are there
> scenarios in which we might look back at a successful decision to "upgrade"
> Acropora and say, "damned, if I'd only known that I wouldn't have worked so
> hard to make it happen". I ask this because I teach a course titled "Coral
> Reefs: Biology, Geology & Policy" and these are the kinds of questions my
> students ask.
> Thanks,
> Dennis
> This was the point I was trying to make when I suggested that promoting
> aquaculture and working with the industry was the way to save the reefs.
> Banning importing will just allow the gov. to pick who gets to have
> licenses and permits. We can't afford the costs of that.
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> Coral-List at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
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*Jennifer Moore
ESA Coral Coordinator | Protected Resources Division
NOAA Fisheries Service
263 13th Ave South
Saint Petersburg, FL 33701
727-551-5797 phone | 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.*

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