The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) will move forward with listing three coral species as “Endangered” under the Endangered Species Act, according to a document obtained from NMFS staff today. The three coral species are Cantharellus noumeae, Siderastrea glynni and Tubastraea floreana. In addition, the dusky sea snake (Aipysurus fuscus) will be listed as “endangered.” The protections for the four species will go into effect 30 days from publication of the final rule in the Federal Register. Documents obtained from the NMFS state that the final rule will be published in the Federal Register tomorrow (7 October 2015) and will be available here.
The listings are the result of a petition filed by WildEarth Guardians in July 2013. In its 90-day finding published in October 2013, NMFS found the WildEarth Guardians petition did not present substantial scientific or commercial information indicating the petitioned action was warranted for 20 of the 23 coral species petitioned. In December 2014, NMFS announced a proposed rule to list the three remaining coral species as endangered under the ESA. At the same time, NMFS also proposed to list the dusky sea snake as endangered and the Banggai cardinalfish (Pterapogon kauderni) and Harrisson’s dogfish (Centrophorus harrissoni) as threatened. NMFS has not issued a final rule on the Banggai cardinalfish or Harrisson’s dogfish at this time.
Cantharellus noumeae, Siderastrea glynni and Tubastraea floreana will, in all likelihood, become the first three coral species listed as “endangered” under the ESA. In addition, there are 22 corals currently listed as “threatened” under the ESA, including the 20 species listed last August.