[Coral-List] 82 Corals Status Review under the US Endangered Species Act

Dave Vaughan dvaughan at mote.org
Fri Jun 1 14:02:02 EDT 2012

The following are some correct dates and information from the previous 

*Correct Dates:*
(see links at: http://floridakeys.noaa.gov/history.html)
"Warning signs about the fragile and finite nature of marine resources 
in the Florida Keys were present long before Florida Keys National 
Marine Sanctuary was established. In 1960, to address the demise of 
coral reefs in the Keys, John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park was 
established off Key Largo as the world's first underwater park. 
Continued environmental degradation prompted the eventual designation of 
Key Largo National Marine Sanctuary in 1975 and Looe Key National Marine 
Sanctuary in 1981.

Throughout the 1980s, oil drilling proposals, reports of deteriorating 
water quality, and evidence of declines in the health of the coral reef 
ecosystem continued to mount. These threats, combined with several large 
vessel groundings, prompted Congress to act. On November 16, 1990, 
President George H. Bush signed into law the bill establishing Florida 
Keys National Marine Sanctuary. This new sanctuary incorporated the 
preexisting Key Largo and Looe Key sanctuaries to protect 2,800 square 
nautical miles of Florida Keys waters."

With the designation of Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, several 
protective measures were immediately put into place, such as prohibiting 
oil exploration, mining, or any type of activity that would alter the 
seafloor and restricting large shipping traffic. Also, anchoring on, 
touching, and collecting coral were all restricted within sanctuary waters.

*First Managment Plan*
The passage of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary and Protection 
Act <http://floridakeys.noaa.gov/about/fknmsp_act.html> in 1990 also 
called for the development of a comprehensive management plan. A set of 
public scoping meetings, followed by a series of workshops, collected 
input from federal, state, and local interests holding knowledge of 
sanctuary problems. These meetings, workshops, and extensive public 
input laid the foundation for the sanctuary management plan 
<http://floridakeys.noaa.gov/mgmtplans/welcome.html> that was ultimately 
implemented in July 1997.

*Your Chance to INPUT *
(You can give your input, concerns and suggestions at: 

The review <http://floridakeys.noaa.gov/review/welcome.html> of the 
marine zone boundaries and regulations of Florida Keys National Marine 
Sanctuary will be a very involved, open, and public process culminating 
in the implementation of any regulatory modifications, additions, or 
eliminations in 2015.

The process will involve proactively reaching out to members of the 
community to gather input 
<http://floridakeys.noaa.gov/review/public-input.html>, weighing 
collected information against the best available science, and developing 
recommendations that will allow the sanctuary to meet the goals and 
objectives <http://floridakeys.noaa.gov/review/goals.html> of the review.

 From there, the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary Advisory Council 
<http://floridakeys.noaa.gov/sac/welcome.html> will develop 
recommendations for NOAA and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife to consider, and 
staff will assess the environmental impacts of any modifications or 
additions to sanctuary regulations. Finally, any changes to marine zone 
regulations or boundaries will be adopted and implemented.

This is your chance to make suggestions and improvements!

Dave Vaughan
(Be part of the solutions, not just the complaints)

On 6/1/2012 10:44 AM, Phil Dustan wrote:
> Coral Listers,
>   And the really sad thing is since the NOAA Sanctuaries were instituted in
> the Florida Keys (1975 for Key Largo, 1981 for Looe Key, and 1990 for
> FKNMS, 2000 for Dry Tortugas) the reefs have lost over 92% of their living
> coral cover.  The reefs have all but lost their ecological integrity and
> now NOAA wants to mandate corals as endangered. But we still allow
> recreational and commercial fishing throughout the vast majority of the
> area and even permit folks to spearfish using SCUBA.
> Go figure.........
>      Phil
> On Thu, May 31, 2012 at 8:21 PM, Christopher Hawkins<chwkins at yahoo.com>wrote:
>> Hello Gene (and all):
>> I share some of the frustrations. With regard to your question:
>> "And  finally, why is National Marine Fisheries involved with coral
>> protection, especially within NOAA Marine Sanctuaries where all corals are
>> already protected?"
>> The petition to list the 82 coral coral species was brought via the U.S.
>> Endangered Species Act. The legislation directs that the U.S. Fish and
>> Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service are the two
>> entities tasked with evaluating a species-listing petition and recommending
>> action/no action. NMFS handles almost all marine species petitions (there
>> are a few exceptions).
>> Best,
>> Chris
>> --- On Wed, 5/30/12, Eugene Shinn<eshinn at marine.usf.edu>  wrote:
>> From: Eugene Shinn<eshinn at marine.usf.edu>
>> Subject: [Coral-List] 82 Corals Status Review under the US Endangered
>> Species Act
>> To: coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
>> Date: Wednesday, May 30, 2012, 11:07 AM
>> Well here we go again! The Center for Biodiversity has masterminded
>> yet another misuse of the Endangered Species Act by suing
>> NOAA/National Marine Fisheries Service to list 82 species of corals.
>> It wouldn't be an unwarranted move if there were scientific certainty
>> about what is causing their demise. Common sense says, "If you don't
>> know what's killing something, then what do you protect it from?"
>> That was the case back when CBD forced endangered status on Acropora
>> species several years ago. Did listing of Acropora stop the demise of
>> that genus in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary where all
>> coral species are protected? The answer is no. Ironically, even then
>> there were areas in the Caribbean where the genus flourished, and
>> there are still areas where it flourishes. Curiously, A. cervicornis
>> is growing magnificently suspended in the water column on lines in
>> Ken Nedimyer's coral nursery within FKNMS. They and other acroporids
>> just do not grow well on coral reefs where they flourished until the
>> late 1970s. There is also good evidence now that the white-band
>> disease that wiped out Acropora is caused by a bacterial infection.
>> Unfortunately listing did not get rid of the mystery microbe. Quite
>> likely it is disease-resistant genotypes that have remained resistant
>> to the disease. That would explain why geological research indicates
>> there have been two major extinctions of A. cervicornis and rebirths
>> in the FKNMS during the past 6,000 years (Shinn et al. 2003; Shinn
>> 2004). Acropora growth rate, if unchecked, would have allowed it to
>> grow as much as 600 ft. vertically during the period that Florida
>> reefs have existed.
>>        So now it is 82 coral species the CBD is using to advance their
>> cause, eight of which are Caribbean species. Since I have conducted
>> geological and growth-rate research in the Caribbean, it is best that
>> I restrict my comments to those species. First, I think we can all
>> agree that dredging or ship groundings can smother any of the species
>> of concern. Such incidents are of limited extent, and they are
>> preventable and can be controlled. Unfortunately, listing them as
>> threatened or endangered cannot abate the widespread death of
>> Caribbean coral species due to disease. Listing is therefore a
>> totally useless act that likely may have unintended or sinister
>> preplanned consequences.
>>       Black-band disease has devastated the Montastraea group of
>> corals, yet we do not know the causes both in Florida and around
>> sparsely populated islands of the Caribbean. Listing certainly will
>> not bring those species back to full health. The same can be said
>> about Dendrogyra cylindrus that is distributed throughout the
>> Caribbean but never in great abundance. Colonies of that coral still
>> grow in the FKNMS where all corals are protected. That species never
>> was abundant in the 50+ years the author has been diving there (Shinn
>> 2011). Dichocoenia stokesii is a minor component on reefs that
>> automatically dies when it reaches the size of a soccer ball. Many
>> died from what was called white plague (a form of bleaching that
>> started at the base of the coral) in the 1980s. One can still find
>> healthy Dichocoenia, and there is little disease today. Furthermore,
>> it is not a significant reef builder. I have no idea why Agaricia
>> lamarcki or Mycetophyllia ferox are included on the list. They
>> certainly are not keystone reef builders, and I am certain they are
>> not threatened throughout their range. As I remember from the first
>> attempt to list D. cylindrus back in the 1970s, a species must be
>> threatened throughout its range to qualify for E.S.A listing. One has
>> to wonder about the benefit of listing these corals since it simply
>> creates more rules and regulations, not to mention paper, time, and
>> effort, and be ineffective at saving these species. We can all
>> remember the Caribbean-wide demise of the urchin Diadema antillarum
>> in the early 1980s some 30 years ago. Diadema remains rare and
>> nowhere near its former abundance. Had that pivotal coral reef
>> organism been listed in the 1980s, would it have been brought back to
>> pre die-off levels? Of course not! Acropora cervicornis died off at
>> roughly the same time as Diadema. If A. cervicornis had been listed
>> back in the 1980s, would it be flourishing today? One has to wonder
>> what the coral reef and the CBD benefits from listing of these corals?
>>        I suspect what is behind the proposed listing is coral bleaching
>> that may be caused by a warming ocean that the IPCC and Al Gore say
>> is caused by increasing levels of CO2 that have been rising and
>> currently approaching 0.004 percent of the atmosphere. That is a
>> worldwide highly contentious political issue that will not be
>> resolved soon. Is that why the CBD wants these corals listed? Or is
>> it the threat of alkalinity shift, a.k.a. ocean acidification? All
>> thinking people know that CO2 will stay in the atmosphere and oceans
>> for many years if anthropogenic sources ceased tomorrow. The lawyers
>> at CBD surely are aware of that. Maybe their action is a way to
>> squeeze tax-exempted funding from gullible and frightened citizens?
>> What is their motive or motives? Why is CBD doing this? Is there some
>> collusion between CBD/lawyers and the government agencies that will
>> squeeze more money from Congress to administer the extra burden of
>> enforcement? I do know that whether they win or lose their lawsuit
>> against NOAA, our taxes pay their legal fees. Now that's a pretty
>> cynical motive but as they say, "follow the money." And finally, why
>> is National Marine Fisheries involved with coral protection,
>> especially within NOAA Marine Sanctuaries where all corals are
>> already protected? If there is government waste and overlap, then
>> this may be a poster-boy example. Gene
>> Shinn, E.A., Reich, C.D., Hickey, T.D., and Lidz, B.H., 2003,
>> Staghorn tempestites in the Florida Keys: Coral Reefs, v. 22, p.
>> 91-97.
>> Shinn, E.A., 2004, The mixed value of environmental regulations: Do
>> acroporid corals deserve endangered species status? Marine Pollution
>> Bulletin, v. 49, p. 531-533.
>> Shinn, E.A., 2011, Are we loving 'em to death? Marine Pollution
>> Bulletin, v. 62, p. 2581-2583.
>> --
>> 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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