[Coral-List] What agency should list corals under the Endangered species act?

Dennis Hubbard dennis.hubbard at oberlin.edu
Wed Mar 27 12:21:33 EDT 2013

Gene makes an excellent point. I've always been uncomfortable placing any
environmental oversight into an agency in which economy has any significant
priority. This is not to say that there are not many intelligent and
well-motivated individuals within that group. However, this association
necessarily monetizes nature.

Certainly we scientists might benefit from occasional fiscal reality, but
it seems more appropriate that an agency tasked to oversee commerce (i.e.,
to see that it proceeds smoothly) should be one of the commenting parties
and not the one setting natural-resource policy.... unless of course we see
corals and the like as entities that primarily contribute to healthy


On Tue, Mar 26, 2013 at 2:58 PM, Eugene Shinn <eugeneshinn at mail.usf.edu>wrote:

> *What agency should list corals under the Endangered Species Act?*
> Dear Listers,
> Because of a petition from the tax exempt Center for Biodiversity, NOAA
> National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) will in all probability list 7
> common Atlantic corals as threatened and upgrade /Acropora/ species to
> endangered.My question is, should the listing be accomplished by an
> agency under the Deparment of Commerce? Is there a conflict of interest?
> Should instead the Department of Interior, e.g., National Park Service
> or Fish and Wildlife, be the official listing agency? Why do I bring
> this up?
> My concern is because any agency under the Department of Commerce that
> also supports research is not likely to ban or regulate products, or
> activities, that may negatively affect commerce and/or economics. For
> example: suppose the "gold standard" 96-hr LD-50 bioassay demonstrated
> that the mosquito pesticides Dibrom, Nalid, and Malathion, commonly
> sprayed in the Florida Keys, is detrimental to corals?
> That finding would present a problem if not an onerous catch-22
> situation because banning these substances could have a huge negative
> effect on the Florida Keys economy, especially the all-important tourist
> economy.Ironically, after all these years of coral reef research, no one
> has yet performed this straightforward bioassay, even though it is well
> known that these pesticides affect marine life as well mosquitoes and
> butterflies. Note that the Department of Interior does not allow
> spraying of these toxic substances in their parks or on park-owned
> property on Key Largo. Such spraying is also not allowed over the
> State-owned Florida Keys Marine Laboratory on Long Key. The toxic
> effects there are well known to marine scientists. I won't bring up the
> endangered Key Largo Wood Rat that is used to curtail commercial
> activities on State lands on North Key Largo .
> But not to worry, if /Acropora/ status is elevated to "endangered," it
> will likely be impossible to conduct those needed bioassays because by
> its very nature the LD-50 test requires the sacrificing of some
> organisms. This bioassay basically determines the level of a substance
> required to kill 50 percent of the organisms in a 96-hr period. That
> badly long-needed information could then be used to determine if such
> levels are present in marine waters off the Florida Keys, including the
> saline groundwater beneath the keys that ultimately upwells offshore. I
> have to wonder why this simple test has never been done? Since these
> tests have not been attempted after all the years of concern about dying
> corals, it seems unlikely the tests will likely happen while it may
> still be legal to conduct them. Catch-22?
> On the other hand, if the Department of Interior were to be in charge of
> listing (they already have control of corals under their jurisdiction at
> Dry Tortugas National Park, Biscayne National Park, and Everglades
> National Park), there would be no conflict. Because of their philosophy,
> the Park Service is generally not constrained by effects on commerce.
> One might add that similar LD-50 bioassays should be conducted on
> sunscreens. Sunscreens are banned from use by swimmers in coral reef
> marine parks in Mexico. Do the Mexican authorities know something we do
> not?
> One can only imagine other activities that will be affected once these
> new endangered species acts go into effect. One might also wonder why we
> presently have 3 federal and 1 state agency protecting corals?
>   Gene
> --
> 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
> <eugeneshinn at mail.usf.edu>
> Tel 727 553-1158
> ---------------------------------- -----------------------------------
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Dennis Hubbard
Dept of Geology-Oberlin College Oberlin OH 44074
(440) 775-8346

* "When you get on the wrong train.... every stop is the wrong stop"*
 Benjamin Stein: "*Ludes, A Ballad of the Drug and the Dream*"

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