Questions and Answers on the Queen Conch Status Review

NOAA Fisheries Announces the Initiation of a Status Review of Queen Conch Under the Endangered Species Act

Background:

On February 27, 2012, we received a petition from WildEarth Guardians to list the queen conch as threatened or endangered throughout all or a significant portion of their range under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). We determined that the petitioned action may be warranted and published a positive 90-day finding in the Federal Register (77 FR 51763; August 27, 2012). After conducting a status review, we determined that listing queen conch under the ESA was not warranted and published our determination in the Federal Register (79 FR 65628; November 5, 2014).

Why is NOAA Fisheries initiating another queen conch status review?

  • WildEarth Guardians and Friends of Animals (Plaintiffs) filed suit against the agency on July 27, 2016, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, challenging our decision not to list queen conch under the ESA.

  • On August 26, 2019, the court vacated our determination that listing queen conch was not warranted and remanded the determination back to NOAA Fisheries.

  • In light of this ruling, and considering the passage of time since the completion of the previous status review in 2014, we will conduct a new status review and make a 12-month determination regarding whether listing the species as threatened or endangered under the ESA is warranted.

What is a status review?

  • A status review is a scientific review that involves collecting and analyzing the best available scientific and commercial information on the species, including its biology, ecology, abundance and population trends, and threats to the species, in order to evaluate the species’ current status and extinction risk.

  • Status reviews undergo independent peer review, and peer reviewer comments are made publicly available.

What is the makeup of the status review team?

  • We have convened a team of federal scientists.

  • The status review team has extensive expertise in queen conch biology, population dynamics, ecology, threats, and other relevant disciplines (e.g., analytical and connectivity modeling techniques), as well as ESA policy.

What are the next steps?

  • If after considering the Status Review and ongoing conservation efforts, we determine that the petitioned request (i.e., listing the queen conch under the ESA) —

    • is not warranted, we publish a negative 12-month finding in the Federal Register.

    • is warranted, we publish a 12-month finding/Proposed Rule in the Federal Register and request public comments on the proposal to list (as threatened or endangered). One or more public hearings may be held.

Will there be an opportunity to provide information or comments to inform the status review?

  • Yes, we are opening a 60-day public comment period through February 4, 2020.

  • Specifically, we are requesting information on: (1) species abundance; (2) historical and current population trends; (3) landings and trade data; (4) distribution and population spatial structure; (5) reproduction and population densities; (6) larval dispersal and population connectivity; (7) genetics; (8) disease and parasites; (9) habitat stressors; and (10) the adequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms (foreign and domestic).

How do I submit information and comments?

  •  If you wish to provide information for this status review, please:

    • Submit comments through February 4, 2020.

    • Submit written comments to Calusa Horn, NMFS, Southeast Regional Office, 263 13th Avenue South, St. Petersburg, FL 33701.

Will queen conch meat imports/exports be affected during the status review?

  • No. NOAA Fisheries is simply conducting a review of the status of the species to determine whether listing the species under the ESA is warranted.

Will queen conch meat imports/exports be affected if the species is listed under the Endangered Species Act?

  •  If the species is listed as endangered, the ESA would prohibit importing queen conch into, or exporting it from, the United States.

  •  If the species is listed as threatened, the ESA’s import/export prohibition would not automatically apply. However, the ESA authorizes NOAA Fisheries to issue protective regulations it deems necessary and advisable for the conservation of threatened species.  If NOAA Fisheries were to determine that import or export restrictions were necessary and advisable, those restrictions would be implemented through regulations that would go through separate notice and comment to the public.

Who do I contact for more information?

Calusa Horn by phone at 727-551-5782 or Calusa.Horn@noaa.gov, or Maggie Miller, 301-427-8457 or Margaret.H.Miller@noaa.gov.

Last updated by on January 06, 2020