The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has proposed listing 66 species of coral as endangered or threatened, citing changes in the earth’s weather patterns are causing disease and warmer and more acidic seas that may have an adverse effect on the lives of these animals. NOAA has proposed that 12 species of coral be listed as endangered and 54 listed as threatened, according to a press release put out by the administration.
“Healthy coral reefs are among the most economically valuable and biologically diverse ecosystems on earth,” Jane Lubchenco, Ph.D., under secretary for commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator said in a statement. “Corals provide habitat to support fisheries that feed millions of people; generate jobs and income to local economies through recreation, tourism, and fisheries; and protect coastlines from storms and erosion. Yet, scientific research indicates that climate change and other activities are putting these corals at risk. This is an important, sensible next step toward preserving the benefits provided by these species, both now and into the future.”
NOAA’s proposal is a response to a 2009 scientific petition launched by the Center of Biological Diversity, which is seeking federal protection for 83 species of corals that can be found in waters of the United States. Of those 83 species, NOAA said protection for 16 of those species was not necessary. Seven of the corals under consideration for protections can be found in Florida and the Caribbean while the remaining 59 species live in the state of Hawaii and other regions of the Pacific. Of the 59 species, seven would be listed as endangered and 52 would be listed as threatened. NOAA has also proposed that the elkhorn and staghorn corals which are currently listed as threatened, be classified as endangered. Before the listing is finalized, the public will have 90 days to comment. During this time, NOAA will hold 18 public meetings.
If you wish to make a comment, visit the regulations.gov web page and enter Docket ID: NOAA-NMFS-2010-0036 into the search field.
Here is the proposed coral species list:
Staghorn coral (Acropora cervicornis)
Elkhorn coral (Acropora palmata)
Pillar coral (Dendrogyra cylindrus)
Boulder star coral (Montastraea annularis)
Mountainous star coral (Montastraea faveolata)
Star coral (Montastraea franksi)
Rough Cactus Coral (Mycetophyllia ferox )
Proposed Threatened Species
Lamarck’s Sheet Coral (Agaricia lamarcki)
Elliptical Star Coral (Dichocoenia stokesii)
Pocillopora elegans (E Pacific)
Pocillopora elegans (Indo-Pacific)