On December 7, 2012, NOAA published a proposed rule in the Federal Register (77 FR 73219) in response to a petition submitted by the Center for Biological Diversity to list 83 reef-building coral species as threatened or endangered under the ESA. NOAA concluded that 12 of the petitioned coral species warrant listing as endangered (5 Caribbean and 7 Indo-Pacific), 54 coral species warrant listing as threatened (2 Caribbean and 52 Indo-Pacific), and 16 coral species (all Indo-Pacific) do not warrant listing as threatened or endangered under the ESA. NOAA also determined that two Caribbean coral species currently listed warrant reclassification from threatened to endangered.
Due to the broad regulatory powers granted under the ESA, the proposed listing could very well shut down aquarium import, sales, or trade of all Acropora, Montipora, Euphyllia and other corals, not just the species listed. The proposed listing would make no distinction between “wild collected,” “maricultured” or “aquacultured” corals.
In other words, the proposed listing may very well prohibit and criminalize the transport and trade of all Acropora and Euphyllia species, (whether wild -collected, maricultured or captive-propagated, including those existing in hobbyists’ aquariums at the time the regulation goes into effect), included those traded at frag swaps or between individual hobbyists, but may also prohibit moving one of these corals from one tank to another, or even taking a colony out of an existing aquarium for treatment, ect., and replacing it in the same aquarium.
Again, the way the ESA is enforced, there is a significant possibility that the proposed listing would be enforced, in effect, as to all corals in the respective genera, including all corals in the Acropora, Montipora, Euphyllia, Caulastrea, Pocillopora, Porities, Pavona, Pectina, Pachyseris and Seriatopra genera.
The proposed listing is not appropriate for multiple reasons, but perhaps the most evident is that there is no scientific data, or substantially incomplete data, to list these species. There is insufficient data to establish that prohibiting collection and trade of these corals would positively impact the species. Also, NOAA and the National Marine Fisheries Service did not consider what impact the listing would have on these corals and coral reefs generally as a result of destruction of the trade on a local level, and the attendant resumption of destructive fishing practices and other deleterious activities by local populations.
The specific aquarium corals that would be listed are:
Acropora lokani – 20,000 leagues Acro
Euphyllia paradivisa – Branching Frogspawn Coral
Pocillopora elegans – E Pacific
Proposed Threatened Species
Euphyllia paraancora – Branching Hammer Coral
Montipora dilatata/ flabellata/ turgescens
Montipora patula/ verrilli
Pectinia alcicornis – Spiny Cup Chalice Coral
Pocillopora elegans – Indo-Pacific
On February 25, 2013, NOAA published a Notice in the Federal Register extending the time to submit public comments on NOAA’s proposal to list 12 coral species as “Endangered” and 54 coral species as “Threatened” under the Endangered Species Act. While PIJAC requested a 90-day extension and a D.C. public hearing, NOAA granted a 30-day extension until April 6, 2013.
To register your opposition to this regulation:
Electronic Submissions: Click “Comment Now!” icon and complete the required fields, and enter or attach your comments.
Postal Mail Submissions:
Regulatory Branch Chief
Protected Resources Division National Marine Fisheries Service Pacific Islands Regional Office 1601 Kapiolani Blvd. Suite 1110 Honolulu, HI 96814
Attn: 82 Coral Species proposed listing
Assistant Regional Administrator Protected Resources Division National Marine Fisheries Service Southeast Regional Office 263 13th Avenue South
Saint Petersburg, FL 33701
Attn: 82 Coral Species proposed listing
808-973-2941: Attn: Protected Resources Regulatory Branch Chief
727-824-5309: Attn: Protected Resources Assistant Regional Administrator
Copies of relevant documents:
Murray W. Camp