Saturday, September 30, 2023
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Agency Seeks Input on Threatened Coral Species

WASHINGTON (CN) - A status review and draft management report on the threats to over 80 coral species have been released by the National Martine Fisheries Service for public comment.

The reports, which together are nearly 600 pages long, were written by a team of federal scientists in response to a petition submitted by the Center for Biological Diversity to list 82 coral species as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act.

The status review report examines the biology and risk of extinction to each species while the draft management report describes existing regulatory mechanisms and ongoing efforts to conserve the corals. According to the report, 56 of the corals are likely to be extinct before 2100 as a result of what the status review says is "the combined direct and indirect effects of rising temperature, including increased incidence of disease and ocean acidification, both resulting primarily from anthropogenic increases in atmospheric CO2." The authors were not asked to make recommendations about listing the species under the act.

The NMFS says that this listing process is one of the most complex it has undertaken and it has had to go to court already to extend the normal deadline of one year to make a listing determination after finding that the original petition contained sufficient information to warrant a full review.

Given the complexity of the petition, the service is asking for public comment on the report and specifically for descriptions of current regulatory mechanisms for greenhouse gas emissions, globally, and for local threats in the 83 foreign countries and the U.S. where the 82 coral species collectively occur. One public listening session and one scientific workshop will be held in the Southeastern U.S. and in the Pacific islands. The specific dates and locations are still being determined by the NMFS.

The public has until July 31 to comment on the status review and management report.

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