News / Company News / AQUARIUM CORALS FACE US TRADE BAN (04/02/10)

AQUARIUM CORALS FACE US TRADE BAN

Window for public comment and data submission to contest CBD petition closes April 12!

Many of you are probably already aware of the current petition by the CBD (Center for Biological Diversity) to the NMFS dept of NOAA to list 82 coral species under the Endangered Species Act. Below are links for complete information regarding the petition, the timelines for review and submission, A pdf of the actual petition (192 pages unfortunately) is available for download as well.

The petition from the Center for Biological Diversity

http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/species/invertebrates/corals.htm

http://www.regulations.gov/search/Regs/home.html#documentDetail?R=0900006480a90b1f


Essentially the NMFS has been petitioned to list these coral species in the Endagered Species Act and is therefore obligated to do a formal review of the status of said species to determine whether listing them under the ESA is warranted. The Petition goes into fair detail regarding the suggested or proposed status of each coral, and cites an immense amount of literature in support. The completeness and accuracy of the data is what is potentially in question, and whether there is enough data to support the listing of the described species.

The most serious matter, however, is that the NMFS is granting a 60 day period, which comes to a close April 12, during which they are seeking additional evidence or information to either warrant listing the species, or from which they can conclude listing is not warranted. This small window of time is rapidly closing, and without adequate submission of data to suggest the findings are not warranted, many if not most of the species petitioned will most likely be listed.

To be listed, the corals need to be under such threat that their global populations have declined very significantly over a certain period of time. To factually assess the global populations of these corals is a nearly impossible task in and of itself, but to do so at specific points in history and accurately extrapolate the global size of their populations looking forward is impossible. Marine populations change and migrate over time. They grow, decline, recover and move due to ever changing and dynamic environmental conditions. Scientific data regarding historical size of populations and range of a species is difficult to gather and even more difficult to interpret. It can be easily proposed however, based on anecdotal evidence, that a certain condition might materialize.

In any event, at a minimum, comments by all concerned parties, specifically regarding those species for which there is an active trade, whether aqua-cultured, mari-cultured or wild harvested, should be submitted as soon as possible to the NMFS, requesting an extension of time to collect more data relating to the range and population densities of the listed species and for a more thorough review of such a monumental petition.