Proposed Rule to Designate Critical Habitat for the Threatened Indo-Pacific Corals
We, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), propose to designate critical habitat for the seven threatened corals in U.S. waters in the Indo-Pacific (Acropora globiceps, Acropora jacquelineae, Acropora retusa, Acropora speciosa, Euphyllia paradivisa, Isopora crateriformis, and Seriatopora aculeata) pursuant to section 4 of the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Seventeen specific occupied areas containing physical features essential to the conservation of these coral species are being proposed for designation as critical habitat; these areas contain approximately 600 square kilometers (km2; 230 square miles) of marine habitat. We have considered positive and negative economic, national security, and other relevant impacts of the proposed designations, and we propose to exclude two areas from the critical habitat designations due to anticipated impacts on national security. We are soliciting comments from the public on all aspects of the proposal, including our identification of the geographical area and depths occupied by the species, the physical and biological feature essential to the coral species’ conservation and identification, areas not included and excluded, and consideration of impacts of the proposed action.
Two virtual public hearings on proposed coral critical habitat in the U.S. Pacific Islands were held in January 2021 as indicated in the Federal Register notice:
4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Chamorro Standard Time on Wednesday, January 20, 2021
7 p.m. to 10 p.m. Samoa Standard Time on Tuesday, January 19, 2021
8 p.m. to 11 p.m. Hawaii Standard Time on Tuesday, January 19, 2021
4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Samoa Standard Time on Thursday, January 21, 2021
5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Hawaii Standard Time on Thursday, January 21, 2021
1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Chamorro Standard Time on Friday, January 22, 2021
Both hearings were held virtually on Webex. Visit the public hearings page for full event details.