NOAA Lists 20 Coral Species as Threatened

NOAA has announced its decision to issue a final rule listing 20 coral species as threatened (and maintaining threatened status for 2 other coral species) under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).  NOAA previously proposed to list 14 coral species as endangered (including reclassification of 2 currently listed threatened species as endangered) and 54 as threatened.  NOAA seeks information to inform potential critical habitat designations (comments due by November 10).

Five of the newly-listed coral species are currently known to be in the Atlantic (Florida), with four of the five also known to be in the Gulf of Mexico.  The remaining 15 newly-listed species are currently known to be in the Pacific.  As justification for the listing, NOAA in part concludes that existing regulatory mechanisms are inadequate to address global threats to corals from greenhouse gas emissions.

In the final rule, NOAA states that actions that may affect the newly-listed coral species (and thus require ESA consultation) include energy projects, discharge of pollution from point sources, non-point source pollution, dredging, pile-driving, setting of water quality standards, and vessel traffic, among others.