On November 30, 2012, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) published a finding that sixty-six species of corals qualify for listing under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Two species of corals that are currently listed as threatened should be reclassified as endangered. This proposed listing is a result of a 2009 petition filed by the Center for Biological Diversity, which was further researched by NOAA and its Biological Review Team.
Of the sixty-eight total coral species that may be listed or reclassified under the ESA by NOAA, nine occur in the Atlantic, the Caribbean, or both. NOAA identified a total of nineteen threats as posing current or future extinction risk to the corals. The proposed listing describes ocean warming and ocean acidification as related to global climate change, specifically the increase of greenhouse gas concentrations and atmospheric warming.
There are many consequences to species listed under the ESA. If a coral species is listed, critical habitat will be designated by NOAA if it is determinable and prudent to do so. Any entity that applies for a federal permit for an activity that “may affect” the listed corals would need to go through the ESA consultation process as part of its federal application and work with the relevant federal agency and NOAA to ensure that the proposed action does not jeopardize the continued existence of the listed species. NOAA may also develop recovery plans for the species, develop species-specific regulations, or issue permits for actions that may result in “take” of a listed species.
NOAA is seeking public comment on the proposed listing before making a final listing decision by December 2013. In January and February of 2013, NOAA will hold eighteen public hearings regarding the listing of these species. Further, interested persons may submit comments online at www.regulations.gov, using the keyword NOAA-NMFS-2010-0036 by February 28, 2013.
For more information contact Amelia Savage.