Reef building corals to be listed as endangered

| 03/12/2012

7901elkhorn-coral (300x281).jpg(CNS): The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency (NOAA) is planning to list 66 species of reef-building corals under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The listing will prohibit the extraction, importing, exporting and commercial activities involving the species seven of which are threatened and endangered species in the Caribbean. In the wake of the announcement Dr John Ogden, Professor Emeritus, Integrative Biology, University of South Florida and SeaWeb Board Member said the move would help draw attention to the sensitivity of coral reefs to over-fishing, pollution, climate change and acidification.

“It will also provide a powerful way to engage the public and convince policy-makers to develop the tools that will advance ocean resource conservation, management and governance and energy policy,” he added in a press release.

The announcement of the proposal by NOAA comes following a petition submitted by the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) to list 83 coral species as threatened or endangered
NOAA initiated a multi-year effort to conduct a biological review of 82 species of coral, which resulted in the publishing of a peer-reviewed report incorporating scientific and commercial data on the corals. In addition to the scientific assessment, the proposed listing will include a full analysis of economic impact, as well as public comments on the proposal. The final listing decision will take place this month.

“Corals are a critical component of the ocean, yet they are dying at an alarming rate and so gaining protection for 66 species of corals is a big step toward a healthier marine environment,” said Dawn Martin, President of SeaWeb. “With increasing threats to corals from ocean acidification to ocean warming, measures like this are essential to help buffer coral from other threats and help them better cope to changing environmental conditions — we applaud NOAA’s proposal.”

Corals play a critical role in the marine environment including providing marine life with food, serving as shelter to more than 25% of fish in the ocean protecting coast from storms and surges, and serving as nursery grounds and areas for reproduction. However, corals are under threat from climate change, pollution, ocean acidification, destructive fishing practices, and extraction for trade purposes. Stressors like climate change exacerbate corals’ susceptibility to additional threats such as disease, storm damage and competition from other organisms.

Many species of coral take years or decades, even centuries to recover from a disturbance, further intensifying the effects of environmental or human-induced impact.
 

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Category: Science and Nature

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  1. Anonymous says:

     

    It saddens me that this might be too late. The acidity of the oceans is becoming a worldwide concern and might be irreversible. One, who is aware of the existence of the Pacific Trash Vortex, the biggest dump in the world, can't help but become very pessimistic Future generations will condemn us.

    So please do something, anything, even a small thing such washing your laundry with small amount of biodegradable products counts.  Everything ends up in the ocean. 

    • Anonymous says:

      No more coral trinkets for the tourists.

    • Anonymous says:

      Reducing fertilizer use would help too. Some gardens, including the Botanic Park, but especially gardens along the coast are all too LUSH. Ifa plant won't thrive in the natural conditions here, then it doesn't belong here! Go Native. 

      • Anonymous says:

        You realize Cayman still has houses with raw sewerage outfalls into the water, not to mention the unlicensed Turtle Farm sewerage discharge, not to mention the big brown stain in the water by Mt Trashmore, not to mention the powerboats with through-hull bathroom discharges. It's fortunate that the ocean sends most of this to Yucatan.