Coral Candidate for Endangered Species List

Photo:Toby Hudson

In an effort to mitigate the rapid destruction of coral reefs around the world, the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has proposed to add 66 species of coral to the endangered species list.

There are 19 threats to coral reef die-offs as listed by the NOAA, but one of the greatest threats by far is global warming which leads to which leads to reef bleaching. Bleaching occurs when there is a lack of microorganisms inhabiting coral reefs. Microorganisms leave their habitats if they are under stress. If they do not leave their habitat when it gets too warm, they either leave or risk dying as a result.

Oil spills and other human caused pollution also causes coral reefs to die off en masse.

In the Carribean, coral die-off tends to be a bigger problem in places that are highly dependent on their marine resources, like Jamaica.

The President has ordered that if any area is to be designated a critical habitat, the regulating agency would first have to consider all public comments regarding the relevant environmental and economic impacts of such a designation.

It has been estimated that coral reefs provide an additional $483 million in benefit per year from tourism and recreational activities alone.

If these species are eventually listed as endangered, the NOAA will enter into talks with other federal agencies in order to reach agreements to prevent permits that would harm these species from being issued.

The NOAA hopes that the labelling of these corals as endandered would help to preserve the diminishing reefs around the world, thereby protecting the hundreds of species that inhabit them. The NOAA believes that this designation would have a positive economic impact, as it would preserve the biodiversity necessary to keep fisheries in business.


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