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

Dwayne Meadows (NOAA Federal) dwayne.meadows at noaa.gov
Fri Mar 29 07:40:52 EDT 2013

Gene suggests DOC has more of a conflict than DOI in administering the 
ESA.  Gene seems to have forgotten the debacle of Julie MacDonald,  the 
deputy assistant secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks at the United 
States Department of the Interior (i.e., directly overseeing the Fish 
and Wildlife Service that implements ESA for mostly terrestrial and 
freshwater species) from 2004 until she was forced to resign in 2007.   
Google her name if you want to read the gory details of her ESA 
interference.  Before the current administration NOAA had very few 
political appointees but that has been changing.

Gene also asserts DOC and NOAA are not likely to ban or regulate 
products, or activities, that may negatively affect commerce, and he 
specifically mentions pesticides as an example.  Gene seems to be 
unaware this is exactly what NOAA is trying to do under the ESA.  Under 
the ESA NOAA Fisheries is responsible for administering Section 7 of the 
ESA that requires other Federal agencies to consider their activities 
for effects on endangered species and if there are potential effects to 
consult with NOAA Fisheries (or FWS for their species).  If those 
activities are determined to jeopardize the continued existence of 
listed species, or result in the destruction or adverse modification of 
critical habitat, case modifications to the activities may be needed for 
them to go forward.  For the past 5 years NOAA Fisheries has been 
consulting with the Environmental Protection Agency, one of those other 
Federal agencies supposed to be looking out for human and ecosystem 
health, and has made dozens of determinations that almost 20 pesticides 
THAT ARE CURRENTLY IN USE, are jeoepardizing ESA listed salmon in the 
Pacific Northwest.  NOAA has suggested modifications to the use of many 
of these chemicals to lessen their impact on listed species. 
Implementation of these modifications is the subject of ongoing 
litigation.  You can find more details at: 
http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/consultation/pesticides.htm  (Note I do not 
work in that area of ESA implementation).

You might ask what about pesticides in coral reef areas.  Well there  is 
a funny thing about the requirement for Federal agencies to consider 
their effects on ESA listed species.  The law does not allow NOAA or the 
Fish and Wildlife Service to force other agencies to consider those 
impacts and consult with their experts.  Only that agency's leadership, 
the White House, and/or lawsuits by private citizens, businesses,  or 
non-profits can make that happen.  In the case of the Pacific Northwest 
salmon pesticide consultations,  the consultations only happened after 
the Northwest Coalition for Alternatives to Pesticides sued, EPA had not 
been willing to do it on their own accord, for many years and 
administrations as I understand it.  And yes research on endangered 
species can and is routinely approved if it benefits the species.

The pesticide issue is even more timely as yesterday the Natural 
Resources Defense Council issued a report detailing that as much as 65% 
of 16,000 pesticide chemicals have been allowed on the market by EPA 
through a loophole  "conditional registration" process where full data 
on health and other effects are not required on first use.  see 


Dwayne Meadows, Ph.D.
Species of Concern National Program Coordinator
Office of Protected Resources (F/PR3)
National Marine Fisheries Service
1315 East West Highway
Silver Spring, MD 20910
Dwayne.Meadows at noaa.gov

On 3/28/2013 3:23 PM, coral-list-request at coral.aoml.noaa.gov wrote:
> ----------------------------------------------------------------------
> ________________________________
>   From: Eugene Shinn <eugeneshinn at mail.usf.edu>
> To: coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
> Sent: Tuesday, March 26, 2013 2:58 PM
> Subject: [Coral-List] What agency should list corals under the Endangered
> species act?
> *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
> --

More information about the Coral-List mailing list