NOAA releases coral status review and draft management plan for initial review, comment
NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service earlier this month released a scientific status review and a draft management report for initial review and comment by the public and other important stakeholders.
The review and draft report are part of an ongoing court-ordered process to assess 82 species of coral from the Caribbean and Pacific for listing under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). These materials do not represent any final or proposed decision, and the important feedback received through the public review and comment will help inform any proposed findings.
“We have created this additional step to the listing process, in agreement with the petitioners and the court, due to the complexity and significance of this potential listing decision,” said Samuel Rauch, acting assistant administrator for NOAA’s Fisheries Service. “Review by the public, scientific experts, state and territorial governments, NGOs, as well as relevant industry will provide additional sources of information and will help inform any future decisions.”
NOAA’s Fisheries Service is releasing these documents in compliance with a court agreement so that the public can review the information we have relied upon to date and we can gather additional information that might be considered.
This process is ongoing and these materials should not be viewed as an indication of any future decisions. In fact, the process beginning today will play a central role in any next steps, and if any ESA listing determination is considered, it would be released as a proposal, which will also be available for public comment.
The two draft reports made available for public comment and review today include the status review, which assesses current impacts to corals and if there are likely extinction risks in the future. The status review was independently peer reviewed by the Center for Independent Experts. The other draft report released today is the draft management report, which evaluates and assesses the effectiveness of existing regulations that address the threats to these coral species, as well as conservation efforts by both governmental and non-governmental organizations to reduce threats and improve the health of corals.
These reports can be downloaded from the NOAA Fisheries website at HYPERLINK "http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/stories/2012/04/4_13_12corals_petition.html%20" and comments can be submitted either by email or mail until July 31.
NOAA’s Fisheries Service will also provide the public opportunities for input at listening sessions and scientific workshops during this comment period. Specific meeting dates and locations will be posted on the NOAA website in the future.
As a result of a petition by the Center for Biological Diversity and subsequent court orders, the agency is evaluating the status of 82 species of coral from the Caribbean and Pacific to determine whether they should be listed as threatened or endangered under the ESA.
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Source: NOAA media release