[Coral-List] Message from Gene Shinn Re: 82 Corals Status Review under the US Endangered Species Act

Jennifer Moore jennifer.moore at noaa.gov
Wed Jun 13 12:52:00 EDT 2012

I wanted to follow-up to Gene's last message to clear up a number of facts
related to the ESA listing of the two Caribbean acroporids and the 82
species status review.  I am the lead NOAA Fisheries staff member who has
worked on the Caribbean acroporid listings and subsequent regulations, and
the new status review of the 82 corals.

1.  "When Acropora was listed as threatened, a secret committee, called a
recovery team (July 10-11, 2007), drew up the Critical Habitat Zones."

Critical habitat was designated by NOAA Fisheries through the standard
public federal rulemaking process.  We proposed critical habitat on
February 6, 2008 (73 FR 6895) and initiated a 90-day comment period during
which four public hearings were held in Florida, Puerto Rico, and US Virgin
Islands.  All comments were considered, and the final rule designating
critical habitat published on November 26, 2008 (73 FR 2210).  Critical
habitat was not designated by the Acropora Recovery Team.

2.  "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."

In the proposed rule we did include the area around the Marquesas based on
the best available information we had at the time.  However, we received
comments during the public comment period that resulted in changing the
boundaries of the final critical habitat to exclude the area around the
Marquesas (see Comment and Response 27 in 73 FR 2210).

3.  "What will happen when critical habitats, that by law, have to be created
for the 82 species? Who will do it?... "

If any of the 82 species under review are found to warrant listing as
threatened or endangered in the proposed rule, and then after the public
comment period, are listed in a final rule, then critical habitat is
required, if prudent and determinable.  The same public rulemaking process
describe above will govern the designations, if made.

The ESA defines “critical habitat” as: (1) specific areas within the
geographical area occupied by the species at the time of listing, that
contain the physical or biological features essential to the species’
conservation, and which may require special management considerations or
protection; and (2) specific areas outside the geographical area occupied
by the species if the agency determines that the area itself is essential
for conservation.

The designation of areas as critical habitat does not create a closed area,
marine protected area, refuge, wilderness reserve, preservation, or other
conservation area; nor does the desgination affect land ownership. Federal
agencies that undertake, fund, or permit activities that may affect
designated critical habitat areas are required to consult with NOAA
Fisheries Service to ensure that their actions do not adversely modify or
destroy designated critical habitat.

I encourage all interested parties to attend one of the public listening
sessions on the 82 Corals' Status Review to learn about the process and
effects of current and potential actions.  Additionally, there are many
resources available on the following website:
*Listening Sessions*
June 25, 2012: 6–9 p.m.; Pagoda Hotel; 1525 Rycroft Street; Honolulu, HI
June 28, 2012: 4–7 p.m.; Nova Southeastern University, Oceanographic
Center, Center of Excellence in Coral Reef Ecosystems Science; 8000 North
Ocean Drive; Dania Beach, FL



*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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