[Coral-List] NOAA lists 20 new corals

Walt Smith walt at waltsmith.com
Tue Sep 9 20:24:25 EDT 2014

Hi Steve,
I do agree that almost all actions by NGO or Government can be grouped under
a political agenda. My statement of no scientific evidence to support their
claims was based on the fact that the group spearheading this campaign (CBD)
is made up of over 70 lawyers trying to find ways to put the pet industry
out of business based on an emotional agenda and ignoring legitimate, well
researched scientific data. There is not one coral reef scientist on their
board nor have they consulted any.
They are making the appeal to NOAA and although NOAA has been able to put
their campaign at bay for many years they were forced to succumb to a
reduced list from the original 82 species down to 66 last year and now we
have a final 20 for inclusion. 
This final approach has been crafted in such a way that it creates a veil to
achieve their goal. By utilizing the clause of the "similarity in species
act" (sorry, I'm not a lawyer and could have the phrasing wrong) they have
managed to cover most species thus making any trade or movement in these
species illegal. The act states that with the lack of scientific knowledge
available (to local government authorities such as USFWS) to accurately
identify the specie in question that any similar looking specie is also
banned from trade. You only have to look at one Acropora and hundreds of
similar looking species are suddenly banned.
Whether you agree with the pet industry or not this is just plain wrong. Our
industry has been successful in producing and maintaining coral farms in
many countries throughout the world since 1998 and has advanced the
knowledge to science over the years. Our farms alone have more than 100,000
pieces successfully growing in various location around Fiji and we are about
to launch a campaign to engage 45 different villages to grow and plant 1,000
pieces each per month. This program will produce more than 500,000 new coral
heads per year and the exponential spawning has the potential to create many
levels of available and useful scientific research projects. This is not a
dream, we are already doing this with 5 villages and have been for the last
14 years.
All of this will be a waste if the CBD is successful in their campaign.
Please see the paper linked below that is a response from PIJAC and contains
relevant information regarding the threat to our industry and the neglect of
CBD to recognize the author of the paper in his disbelief of their approach
that refers to Dr. Veron's comments and involvement in this case. Clearly
this is a dangerous agenda that will affect us all.
With all due respect to this community of scientist I hope we can agree that
this is not science.


-----Original Message-----
From: Walt Smith [mailto:walt at waltsmith.com] 
Sent: Tuesday, September 09, 2014 12:24 PM
To: 'Steve Mussman'; 'Peter Sale'; 'coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov'
Subject: RE: [Coral-List] NOAA lists 20 new corals

Excuse me but has anyone seen Charlie Veron's response to this action?
This is strictly a political move by a non scientific body of people and
there is not one shred of scientific evidence to support their claims.
They have even gone so far as to completely ignore his more than 90 comments
on the report that contradict his work when the whole study was based on
this work.

-----Original Message-----
From: Steve Mussman [mailto:sealab at earthlink.net] 
Sent: Tuesday, September 09, 2014 4:10 AM
To: Peter Sale; coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
Subject: Re: [Coral-List] NOAA lists 20 new corals

   Hi Peter,
   Excellent analysis as usual. It is getting more and more difficult to
   any realistic hope that we will turn this ship around in time, but I have
   point  out  that even  though  the actions of the CBD and NOAA are not
   necessarily the silver bullet that will save the world's coral reefs, at
   least  they  are  modeling behaviors that go beyond as you put it  . .
   .  devolving into meaningless discussions. In my opinion, reactions to
   ESA listings are telling. Instead of seizing on the moment to emphasize
   extent of the problem we prefer to point out deficiencies in the
   No wonder there is little evidence of public concern. Instead of rallying
   behind the effort, we reinforce complacency by going to great lengths to
   point  out any and  all  shortcomings even when it is obvious that the
   efforts were initiated to help draw much needed attention to the dire
   of the problem at hand. It may be frustrating to think that we are still
   the  point of needing to develop a popular consensus that this problem
   exists,  but  more  importantly,  we  need  to take a hard look at our
   own contributions to the confusion. When I am told by scientists that it
   doesn't do a damn bit of good to list 20 more coral species as threatened
   am no longer bewildered by the fact that many sport divers can't tell a
   coral reef from a dead one. After all, why bother?


   >From: Peter Sale
   >Sent: Sep 6, 2014 5:04 PM
   >To: coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
   >Subject: Re: [Coral-List] NOAA lists 20 new corals
   >Hi Listers,
   >As usual, I have been reading but not commenting. Seems to be lots of
   >confusion around the news that NOAA has designated 20 species of corals
   >that occur in US waters (including US protectorates, or whatever the
   >politically correct word for colony is) waters.
   >Some are irritated that CBD generated a list of 80 species and that this
   >action obliged NOAA to spend time and money doing the mandatory
   >assessments required that ultimately led to the list of 30 species
   >announced. Apparently people should not generate work for government
   >agencies set up to do that work.
   >Some are concerned that the species may not be easily identified, or
   >perhaps have been mis-identified, and therefore may not even be
   >endangered. Some think that this means that genetic analyses need to be
   >done to be sure that these are indeed valid species, correctly
   >(the assumption here, apparently, is that a genetic analysis is the only
   >one that can determine if a species is a species).
   >Some seem irritated that NOAA has only identified 20 species, because
   >surely more are endangered.
   >Few if any (I don't think I saw any) have reflected on what designation
   >NOAA means for the future well-being of these species.
   >Everyone who wrote on this topic should read Gene Shinn's comments made
   >today. They were a breath of fresh air.
   >So far as I understand it, by designating certain corals as threatened,
   >NOAA is now obligated to develop management plans for each; plans that
   >will help to avoid their eventual loss from US waters. This might have
   >value if the management plans include actions that will attack the
   >causing the declines in these species. I don't hold my breath on this,
   >because the plans are not yet developed, and the reasons for coral
   >are many and sometimes not easily remedied with local action. Still, it
   >is possible that some good could come from these designations.
   >That NOAA, once required to assess some 80 species of coral, identified
   >that were worthy of listing as endangered is further evidence of the
   >perilous state of coral reef systems -- a fact that most readers of
   >coral-list will not find surprising. It is a fact that many of us have
   >been stating repeatedly, and in any forum available, for some time now.
   >And still the world goes on complacently, unconcerned. These 20 species,
   >correctly identified or not, are just a symbol of the plight of coral
   >reefs worldwide. It is clear that we have not been articulating the
   >problem effectively enough to break through the general unconcern. As
   >Gene Shinn remarked, most sport divers do not appear to know the
   >difference between a living reef and a dead one, and we need to become
   >more effective if we really want the fate of coral reefs recognized.
   >And while we are about it, let's remember that the coral reefs are just
   >one of the canaries in our particular mine. Just as human activities are
   >causing major changes to coral reefs, we are causing major changes to
   >oceans in general, as well as to the Arctic and many terrestrial systems
   >as well. We seem not to notice the pressure we place on the planet's
   >ecological systems, caused by way too many of us, using way too much
   >stuff, We seem reluctant to ever curtail our enthusiasm for using stuff.
   >We seem capable of devolving into meaningless discussion, much at cross
   >purposes, when something like the formal designation of 20 species of
   >corals occurs, instead of articulating, clearly, that this is simply
   >further evidence of the damage we are doing. And we do not seem very
   >interested in stopping our bad behavior.
   >Peter Sale
   >sale at uwindsor.ca @PeterSale3
   >www..uwindsor.ca/sale www.petersalebooks.com
   >Coral-List mailing list
   >Coral-List at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
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