Posted by: reefrescue | September 28, 2011

More Florida corals may receive Endangered Species Act protection

Feds have until April to decide whether seven Florida coral species will receive Endangered Species Act protection.

SAN FRANCISCO— In an agreement filed in federal court the U.S.government pledged to determine by April 15, 2012, whether Endangered Species Act (ESA) protections are needed for 82 species of coral. Seven of which are found in Florida waters.

Seven of the corals under consideration are found in Palm Beach County waters and along the entire Florida reef tract which stretchs from the Dry Tortugas to Martin County. They are: Mountainous Star Coral, Rough Cactus Coral, Lamarck’s Sheet Coral, Pillar Coral, Elliptical Star Coral, Boulder Star Coral and Montastraea franksi. Florida Elkhorn and Staghorn coral populations already receive ESA protection.

The settlement is the result of a 2009 petition from the Center for Biological Diversity asking the federal government to list the corals as threatened or endangered; that decision is now overdue. The corals, which occur in U.S. waters ranging from Florida and Hawaii to American territories in the Caribbean and Pacific, have all declined by more than 30 percent over a 30-year period. Coral reefs around the world are facing extinction due to overfishing, pollution and the overarching threats of global warming and ocean acidification.

“Unless we protect them right now, coral reefs will be lost within decades, and our grandchildren will never see these colorful underwater forests teeming with life,” said Miyoko Sakashita, director of the Center for Biological Diversity oceans program. “The settlement is a victory for corals because it will speed efforts to reduce threats and protect coral habitat.”

See press release: http://www.biologicaldiversity.org/news/press_releases/2011/corals-09-27-2011.html

Video link: Reef Rescue divers monitor Palm Beach County Pillar Coral: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JVWEtiHu2mA

Also see: https://reefrescue.wordpress.com/2010/02/10/more-florida-corals-in-danger-of-extinction/

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