findings and happenings of note in the marine world
U.S. considers endangered species
protection for 82 stony coral species
A move to place more than 80 species of stony corals on
the Endangered Species list appears to be gaining traction
with the U.S. federal government. A petition from an Ar-izona-based environmental group calls for protection of
8 Caribbean and Western Atlantic species, 9 corals in the
Hawaiian Islands, and 66 species from the Indo-Pacific.
The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS),
the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and the Department of Commerce have
opened a 90-day finding period seeking to hear “
scientific and commercial information” on whether a long list
of stony coral species would be given protection under
the Endangered Species Act.
The 83 species included in the original petition range
from four species of Acanthastrea, 22 species of Acropora,
3 species of Euphyllia, 8 species of Montipora, and 4 species of Turbinaria. Among the corals on the list are such
commonly kept aquarium species as Euphyllia parancora,
Galaxea astreata, Pavona cactus, Turbinaria reniformis,
and many species of Acropora.
The move was initiated by the Center for Biological Diversity, headquartered in Tucson, Arizona, a nonprofit dedicated to conservation. The Center
claims the petition, originally submitted October 20, 2009, was ignored until they threatened
to sue the National Marine Fisheries Service.
The announcement that the group’s petition had
been accepted came February 10. Of the 83 original
coral species, 82 were found to have significant enough
evidence of compromise to justify further status reviews.
The Fisheries Service ruled that there was not enough
evidence to consider a listing for the Western Atlantic
Ivory Tree Coral, Oculina varicosa.
“This is a call to action,” said Marshall Meyers, CEO
of the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council (PIJAC) in
Washington. “There may be some species that do need
protection, but to list all of these corals demands serious
science-based, credible studies demonstrating that each
of these species is endangered.”
If listed, the corals would be banned from collec-
tion in U.S. waters, banned from import into the United
States; interstate shipment would become illegal. Captive
propagation would require a federal permit, and corals
could only be bought and sold within states. “Effectively,
this would end the international trade in stony corals to
the United States,” Meyers said in an exclusive interview
with CORAL Magazine.
“I think many people have been taken by surprise
and don’t yet know the implications. In addition to the
marine aquarium hobby, this could impact anyone who
Photos by Janine cairns-michael
Described as endangered by the center for
biological Diversity are such common corals as
Acropera vermeyi and Euphyllia parancora.