More on ESA listing for corals

There is an interesting discussion on the coallist server about the new petition to list 82 more corals that illuminates the variety of perspectives on this topic:

On February 10, 2010, NOAA Fisheries Service published a Federal

Register Notice finding the agency will evaluate the status of 82

species of coral under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), in response to

a petition from the Center for Biological Diversity. Of the 82 species

that will be reviewed, seven species occur in U.S. Caribbean waters and,

according to the petition, 75 occur in U.S. Pacific waters. NOAA?s

Fisheries Service is soliciting information on the species? historical

and current distribution and abundance, the short- and long-term effects

of climate change on their condition and the effects of other potential

threats such as land-based sources of pollution, and existing

conversation efforts. Please see the FR notice for further information


Jennifer Ann Moore

Acropora Coordinator

Natural Resource Specialist

NOAA Fisheries Service

Protected Resources Division

263 13th Ave. S.

St. Petersburg, FL  33701

(727)824-5312 phone

(727)824-5309 fax

From: Sarah Heberling <>

Subject: [Coral-List] Endangered species status will be considered for

82            corals


Message-ID: <>

Content-Type: text/plain; charset=ISO-8859-1; format=flowed

Thank you, Andrea!

For additional information on what NMFS is doing for the ESA-listed

species of /Acropora palmata/ and /A. cervicornis/ in the U.S. and

Caribbean, I encourage you to visit our website:  There you will find FAQs

about the listing process and about the designation of critical habitat

under the ESA (including answers to “What does this mean to me??”).

Plus, there is a handy worksheet for figuring out which permits you

might need when conducting research on these two listed species.  It’s

all not as scary as some would have you think.

Additionally, please visit for more information

on the petition to list 82 corals, on NMFS’ 90-day response to the

petition, and on NMFS’ request for more information to support status

reviews for these species.  Please consider providing your comments,

data, and information to assist us with the massive task of thoroughly

assessing the status of each the 82 candidate coral species!!



Sarah E. Heberling

NOAA Fisheries Service

Phone: (727) 824-5312

Fax: (727) 824-5309



“What good is a used up world; and how could it be worth having?”

Coral-Listers, Be careful what you wish for and beware of, “The Law

of unintended consequences.”  At stake is the listing of 82 species

of corals which is the first step toward making all Atlantic  coral

reefs off limits to divers and researchers (except for an elite few).

Imagine the increased paperwork ect., that will be required to obtain

a permit to study any of these corals or a reef where they live. If

passed the next step will  be designation of critical habitats to

protect these species—-from what? and how? Every scuba diver

bubbles Co2 into the water, (exhaled breath contains up to 40,000 ppm

Co2).Down the road we may have to stop scuba diving or mandate the

use of rebreathers. The Co2 battle is being fought vigorously on many

other fronts  so why use corals as pawns to create a new tangle of

government regulations and bureaucrats? What is really behind this?

Job creation? More coral police? The only winners I see will be the

lawyers! I think that this time The Center for Biodiversity has gone

over the top and is more obstructionist than I ever thought they

would be. I wonder who supports them? How do they get their funding?

Now that’s something to ponder! Lets be reasonable!  This action is

not going to save  corals. Just look to the geologic record. The

grandest reefs the world has ever known grew during the Cretaceous

when Co2 levels were more than 7 times present levels. To and Earth

scientist this action appears to be just one more issue for people to

disagree on in a country already so politically divided on most any

subject one can think of. No this is not Glen Beck speaking…

Gene Shinn


There is plenty to question and debate about the application of the ESA

in the way it is being used by the Center for Biodiversity, but this

unwashed, inflammatory drivel is not civil discourse and has no place on


John Ogden


Let me tell you a little story.  You will recall the Conch Coalition, the

so-called “grass-roots” group that formed in the Florida Keys to oppose

the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary in the early to mid-1990’s.  I

said so-called and put “grass-roots” in parenthesis because some of their

organizers came from out of town and a local investigative reporter found

funding links back to the wise-use movement.

But to get to my point, Conch Coalition representatives began a

door-to-door campaign, especially in the Upper Keys telling people such

things as, “if you loose the roof on your house in a hurricane, the

Sanctuary will not let you rebuild!”. Or, a real frightening bit of

mis-leading, malicious fabrication was “if your car leaks oil on your

driveway, NOAA will fine you $100 thousand dollars.”  They were full of

lies and mis-information and single income or retired individuals believed

them at first.

However, when these malicious and false claims did not happen, even

multiple hurricane strikes later…. the credibility of the Conch

Coalition was affected.  Those that came from the outside are gone and

support for the Sanctuary has swung to the positive side.

Now … I recall you made similar claims about the listing of Acropora

species …. Yet your falsely based predictions haven’t taken place.

I share this story about how the Conch Coalition tarnished and lost their

credibility in the Keys as a long time friend.

Billy Causey

Hi all,

I’d like to respond to some of the questions Gene raised about CBD’s coral

petition and the effects of listing corals under the Endangered Species Act

(ESA). First, the purpose of the listing petition is pretty straightforward:

to protect corals from a range of threats, including not just climate change

and acidification, but degraded water quality, destruction by anchors, trawl

gear, and unsustainable development. Please bear in mind that listing a

species and designating critical habitat for it does not automatically block

any activity.  Acropora palmata and A. cervicornis are already listed under

the ESA and critical habitat has been designated for both species along the

south Fla. coast and Keys.  Diving, fishing, research, and pretty much every

other activity that was permitted before continues now.  The main difference

is that the federal government must now ensure that any activity it

authorizes or funds in that area (e.g., dredging) will not jeopardize the

survival and recovery of those species or destroy their critical habitat.

That analysis rarely results in activities being wholly curtailed.  Most

often they are modified to minimize impacts and allowed to continue.

As one who works with this law day in and day out, I can assure you that

listing corals is not going to lead to requiring rebreathers or excluding

divers from coral habitat.  What we do hope it will accomplish with divers

is an increased awareness that these corals are fragile, incredibly

important habitat-builders that need to be treated with care.  I’ve seen

enough of my fellow divers grabbing and kicking coral to believe that

message has still not reached nearly enough recreational divers.

We also hope to raise awareness regarding the threat of climate change and

ocean acidification to coral reefs.  As many on this list have noted, public

awareness is crucial to protecting corals.  There has been much discussion

on the list about how to bring the “save the corals” message to the public.

This is one more way to do that.

As for research, it is true that researchers will need to get one more

permit.  For researchers dedicated to understanding and conserving corals,

I’d hope this wouldn’t be seen as a reason to oppose protecting them under a

law designed to ensure not only their survival, but their recovery.

Moreover, ESA listing can bring with it increased attention and funding for

scientific research on the listed species.

I hope this information is helpful.  Please feel free to contact us if you

have any questions about the petition, how the process works, etc.  Thank

you all for the great work you do to protect corals.


Andrea A. Treece

Senior Attorney, Oceans Program

Center for Biological Diversity

351 California Street, Suite 600

San Francisco, CA 94104

ph: 415-436-9682 x306      fax:  415-436-9683

I’d like to support Andrea in her comments about the value and supposed obstacles created by an ESA list of coral. First, speaking as a 35-year veteran of the recreational diving industry and editor of the oldest national scuba publication in America, we have no fear that anyone will require us to use rebreathers, or impose any other onerous regulations due to the listing. In fact, the listing of staghorn and elkhorn has, as she indicates, raised the awareness among divers to the plight of these species as well as coral reef in general. And I have no doubt that listing more species will do the same.

Now, putting on my hat as a marine science professor, we have the privilege here at FKCC of working with the Coral Restoration Foundation in raising and transplanting cervicornis in the Florida Keys; and we not found any requirements imposed on us that are either onerous or unreasonable.


Alex. F. Brylske, Ph.D.

Professor, Marine Science & Technology

Florida Keys Community College

5901 College Rd.

Key West, FL 33040

office: 305-809-3148

cell: 954-701-1966

Fellow coral listers,

I prefer to silently read the posts by others, but every now and then, I

am forced to comment.  Recent posts on the topic of listing of more corals

under the US Endangered Species Act by Gene Shinn, John Ogden and others

show the diversity of opinion out there, even among the scientifically

informed.  Rather than comment on whether listing is a useful action to

take, let me take a different tack. (I remain curious concerning the

penchant within the US for listing organisms that live largely or entirely

outside US jurisdiction ? such as the red kangaroo ? but now is not the

time and place for that discussion.)  There is such a thing as fiddling

while Rome burns.  We are generally quite good at that, and I fear we are

going to go on fiddling until the opportunity to actually take action will

have passed us by.  Corals, and many other species, are at risk of

extinction because too many of us insist on demanding too much from an

environment that cannot provide for these wants.  I happen to think we

need these other species more than we realize, and that it is in our own

self-interest to change our attitudes and behavior now.  We do not need

the US to list corals as endangered to know that management of most reef

areas around the world is woefully inadequate, nor to know what steps need

to be taken to improve that management ? reduce overfishing, cut

pollution, eliminate inappropriate coastal development, and, yes, cut CO2

emissions and reduce atmospheric CO2 concentrations in order to

stabilize/restore ocean surface waters pH.  In short, we need to start

managing our impacts on reefs, instead of continuing to pretend to manage

them.  That means making actual, on-the-ground changes, not discussing

changes, legislating changes, or bemoaning the lack of changes.  We could

also start thinking seriously about the carrying capacity of this planet

for Homo sapiens, rather than complacently noting that our population is

trending towards 9.2 billion by mid century.  What can one scientist do?

We each can start by doing our best to articulate the problem as clearly

as possible in every forum open to us ? we have a very big problem and

most people are quite unaware of how big it is.  When did you last

buttonhole a politician, get an article into a newspaper, talk to a school

group, post on a web-site, get yourself onto TV to talk about environment,

or, especially, work to improve environmental management where you live?

When did  you last talk quietly to your family or neighbors about this

issue?  When did you set an example?  Spaceship Earth is not being managed

sustainably, and its coral canaries are screaming as loudly as they can.

Peter Sale

Peter F. Sale

Assistant Director

United Nations University

Institute for Water, Environment and Health


University Professor Emeritus

University of Windsor

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