Common Sea Fans (<em>Gorgonia ventilina</em>) are one of several species of sea fans found in southeast Florida. Sea fans are also classified as soft corals or gorgonians.

Common Sea Fans (Gorgonia ventilina) are one of several species of sea fans found in southeast Florida. Sea fans are also classified as soft corals or gorgonians.

Photo: Chantal Collier

Juvenile bluehead wrasses swim along the reef in Palm Beach.

Juvenile bluehead wrasses swim along the reef in Palm Beach.

Photo: Joe Marino

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Southeast Florida Reef News

Increased Protection for Florida’s Coral Reefs - NOAA Fisheries proposes listing 7 of Florida’s reef building corals under the Endangered Species Act

Joanna Walczak
Southeast Region Administrator

Elkhorn (above) and Staghorn corals are being recommended for uplisting from threatened to endangered under the Endangered Species Act. Photo: Dave Gilliam, Ph.D.
Elkhorn (above) and Staghorn corals are being recommended for uplisting from threatened to endangered under the Endangered Species Act. Photo: Dave Gilliam, Ph.D.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Fisheries Service has proposed to list 66 coral species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), including 59 species in the Pacific and seven in the Caribbean – including Florida.  Based on a thorough scientific review and integration of public input, the proposal includes listing five species as endangered and two as threatened in Florida and the Caribbean. Before the listings are finalized in late 2013, there will be a 90-day public comment period during which NOAA will hold 18 public meetings.

All of the coral species being proposed for listing within Florida waters are protected from collection and harm under the Florida Administrative Code.  In July 2009, the Florida Coral Reef Protection Act also increased protection of coral reefs and associated reef resources on sovereign submerged lands off the coasts of Martin, Palm Beach, Broward, Miami-Dade and Monroe counties.  NOAA is also proposing that two Florida species— elkhorn and staghorn corals which are already listed under the ESA - be reclassified from threatened to endangered.

For more information, background documents, and instructions on submitting comments regarding this proposal to NOAA Fisheries, visit http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/stories/2012/11/82corals.html



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