On August 27, 2014, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) announced that 15 species of corals in the Indo-Pacific will be listed as Threatened under the Endangered Species Act. NMFS will also list five species of corals in the Caribbean. None of the species will be listed as Endangered.
Of the 15 Indo-Pacific species that will be listed, 8 species are thought to occur in American Samoa, 4 in Guam and 2 species in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI), according to NMFS’ final rule. None of the coral species that will be listed are known to occur in Hawaii.
For species listed as threatened, ESA Section 9 take prohibitions do not automatically apply. This means that take (defined under the ESA as “to harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture, or collect, or to attempt to engage in any such conduct”) of the newly listed coral species will not be prohibited at this time. NMFS may consider at a later time whether regulations to prohibit take are needed for the conservation of the threatened coral species.
NMFS’ final decision is a substantial revision of a proposal issued in November 2012 that included a total of 66 species of corals in the Indo-Pacific and Caribbean. The new ESA listing will become effective 30 days after the final rule is published in the Federal Register.
For more information, see NMFS’ announcement here: http://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/stories/2014/08/corals_listing.html.
To read FR Notice, click here.