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
Natural Resource Specialist
NOAA Fisheries Service
Protected Resources Division
263 13th Ave. S.
St. Petersburg, FL 33701
From: Sarah Heberling <Sarah.Heberling@noaa.gov>
Subject: [Coral-List] Endangered species status will be considered for
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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:
http://sero.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/esa/acropora.htm. 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
http://sero.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/esa/82CoralSpecies.htm 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…
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
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.
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
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 F. Sale
United Nations University
Institute for Water, Environment and Health
University Professor Emeritus
University of Windsor