[Federal Register Volume 79, Number 241 (Tuesday, December 16, 2014)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 74953-74984]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2014-29203]



[[Page 74953]]

Vol. 79

Tuesday,

No. 241

December 16, 2014

Part IV





Department of Commerce





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National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration





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50 CFR Parts 223 and 224





Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; 12-Month Finding for the 
Eastern Taiwan Strait Indo-Pacific Humpback Dolphin, Dusky Sea Snake, 
Banggai Cardinalfish, Harrisson's Dogfish, and Three Corals Under the 
Endangered Species Act; Proposed Rule

Federal Register / Vol. 79 , No. 241 / Tuesday, December 16, 2014 / 
Proposed Rules

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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Parts 223 and 224

[Docket No. 140707555-4999-01]
RIN 0648-XD370


Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; 12-Month Finding 
for the Eastern Taiwan Strait Indo-Pacific Humpback Dolphin, Dusky Sea 
Snake, Banggai Cardinalfish, Harrisson's Dogfish, and Three Corals 
Under the Endangered Species Act

AGENCY: National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and 
Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce.

ACTION: Proposed rule; 12-month petition finding; request for comments.

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SUMMARY: We, NMFS, have completed comprehensive status reviews under 
the Endangered Species Act (ESA) for seven foreign marine species in 
response to a petition to list those species. These seven species are 
the Eastern Taiwan Strait population of Indo-Pacific humpback dolphin 
(Sousa chinensis), dusky sea snake (Aipysurus fuscus), Banggai 
cardinalfish (Pterapogon kauderni), Harrisson's dogfish (Centrophorus 
harrissoni), and the corals Cantharellus noumeae, Siderastrea glynni, 
and Tubastraea floreana. We have determined that the Eastern Taiwan 
Strait Indo-Pacific humpback dolphin is not a distinct population 
segment and therefore does not warrant listing. We have determined 
that, based on the best scientific and commercial data available, and 
after taking into account efforts being made to protect the species, 
Pterapogon kauderni, and Centrophorus harrissoni meet the definition of 
a threatened species; and Aipysurus fuscus, Cantharellus noumeae, 
Siderastrea glynni, and Tubastraea floreana meet the definition of an 
endangered species. Therefore, we propose to list these six species 
under the ESA. We are not proposing to designate critical habitat for 
any of the species proposed for listing, because the geographical areas 
occupied by these species are entirely outside U.S. jurisdiction, and 
we have not identified any unoccupied areas that are currently 
essential to the conservation of any of these species. We are 
soliciting comments on our proposals to list the six species. We are 
also proposing related administrative changes to our lists of 
threatened and endangered species.

DATES: Comments on our proposed rule to list eight species must be 
received by February 17, 2015. Public hearing requests must be made by 
January 30, 2015.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments on this document, identified by 
NOAA-NMFS-2014-0083, by any of the following methods:
     Electronic Submissions: Submit all electronic public 
comments via the Federal eRulemaking Portal. Go to www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=NOAA-NMFS-2014-0083. Click the ``Comment Now'' icon, 
complete the required fields, and enter or attach your comments.
     Mail: Submit written comments to, Lisa Manning, NMFS 
Office of Protected Resources (F/PR3), 1315 East West Highway, Silver 
Spring, MD 20910, USA.
    Instructions: You must submit comments by one of the above methods 
to ensure that we receive, document, and consider them. Comments sent 
by any other method, to any other address or individual, or received 
after the end of the comment period, may not be considered. All 
comments received are a part of the public record and will generally be 
posted for public viewing on http://www.regulations.gov without change. 
All personal identifying information (e.g., name, address, etc.), 
confidential business information, or otherwise sensitive information 
submitted voluntarily by the sender will be publicly accessible. We 
will accept anonymous comments (enter ``N/A'' in the required fields if 
you wish to remain anonymous). Attachments to electronic comments will 
be accepted in Microsoft Word, Excel, or Adobe PDF file formats only.
    You can obtain the petition, status review reports, the proposed 
rule, and the list of references electronically on our NMFS Web site at 
http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/species/petition81.htm.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Lisa Manning, NMFS, Office of 
Protected Resources (OPR), (301) 427-8403.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Background

    On July 15, 2013, we received a petition from WildEarth Guardians 
to list 81 marine species as threatened or endangered under the 
Endangered Species Act (ESA). This petition included species from many 
different taxonomic groups, and we prepared our 90-day findings in 
batches by taxonomic group. We found that the petitioned actions may be 
warranted for 27 of the 81 species and announced the initiation of 
status reviews for each of the 27 species (78 FR 63941, October 25, 
2013; 78 FR 66675, November 6, 2013; 78 FR 69376, November 19, 2013; 79 
FR 9880, February 21, 2014; and 79 FR 10104, February 24, 2014). This 
document addresses the findings for 7 of those 27 species: the Eastern 
Taiwan Strait population of Indo-Pacific humpback dolphin (Sousa 
chinensis), dusky sea snake (Aipysurus fuscus), Banggai cardinalfish 
(Pterapogon kauderni), Harrisson's dogfish (Centrophorus harrissoni), 
and the corals Cantharellus noumeae, Siderastrea glynni, and Tubastraea 
floreana. The remaining 20 species will be addressed in subsequent 
findings.
    We are responsible for determining whether species are threatened 
or endangered under the ESA (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.). To make this 
determination, we consider first whether a group of organisms 
constitutes a ``species'' under the ESA, then whether the status of the 
species qualifies it for listing as either threatened or endangered. 
Section 3 of the ESA defines a ``species'' to include ``any subspecies 
of fish or wildlife or plants, and any distinct population segment of 
any species of vertebrate fish or wildlife which interbreeds when 
mature.'' On February 7, 1996, NMFS and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife 
Service (USFWS; together, the Services) adopted a policy describing 
what constitutes a distinct population segment (DPS) of a taxonomic 
species (the DPS Policy; 61 FR 4722). The DPS Policy identified two 
elements that must be considered when identifying a DPS: (1) The 
discreteness of the population segment in relation to the remainder of 
the species (or subspecies) to which it belongs; and (2) the 
significance of the population segment to the remainder of the species 
(or subspecies) to which it belongs. As stated in the DPS Policy, 
Congress expressed its expectation that the Services would exercise 
authority with regard to DPSs sparingly and only when the biological 
evidence indicates such action is warranted.
    Section 3 of the ESA defines an endangered species as ``any species 
which is in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant 
portion of its range'' and a threatened species as one ``which is 
likely to become an endangered species within the foreseeable future 
throughout all or a significant portion of its range.'' We interpret an 
``endangered species'' to be one that is presently in danger of 
extinction. A ``threatened species,'' on the other hand, is not 
presently in danger of extinction, but is likely to become so in the 
foreseeable future (that

[[Page 74955]]

is, at a later time). In other words, the primary statutory difference 
between a threatened and endangered species is the timing of when a 
species may be in danger of extinction, either presently (endangered) 
or in the foreseeable future (threatened).
    When we consider whether species might qualify as threatened under 
the ESA, we must consider the meaning of the term ``foreseeable 
future.'' It is appropriate to interpret ``foreseeable future'' as the 
horizon over which predictions about the conservation status of the 
species can be reasonably relied upon. The foreseeable future considers 
the life history of the species, habitat characteristics, availability 
of data, particular threats, ability to predict threats, and the 
reliability to forecast the effects of these threats and future events 
on the status of the species under consideration. Because a species may 
be susceptible to a variety of threats for which different data are 
available, or which operate across different time scales, the 
foreseeable future is not necessarily reducible to a particular number 
of years. Discussions of the considerations for each relevant species 
are in the species-specific sections below.
    Section 4(a)(1) of the ESA requires us to determine whether any 
species is endangered or threatened due to any one or a combination of 
the following five threat factors: The present or threatened 
destruction, modification, or curtailment of its habitat or range; 
overutilization for commercial, recreational, scientific, or 
educational purposes; disease or predation; the inadequacy of existing 
regulatory mechanisms; or other natural or manmade factors affecting 
its continued existence. We are also required to make listing 
determinations based solely on the best scientific and commercial data 
available, after conducting a review of the species' status and after 
taking into account efforts being made by any state or foreign nation 
to protect the species.
    In making a listing determination, we first determine whether a 
petitioned species meets the ESA definition of a ``species.'' Next, 
using the best available information gathered during the status review 
for the species, we complete a status and extinction risk assessment. 
In assessing extinction risk, we consider the demographic viability 
factors developed by McElhany et al. (2000) and the risk matrix 
approach developed by Wainwright and Kope (1999) to organize and 
summarize extinction risk considerations. The approach of considering 
demographic risk factors to help frame the consideration of extinction 
risk has been used in many of our status reviews, including for Pacific 
salmonids, Pacific hake, walleye pollock, Pacific cod, Puget Sound 
rockfishes, Pacific herring, scalloped hammerhead sharks, and black 
abalone (see http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/species/ for links to these 
reviews). In this approach, the collective condition of individual 
populations is considered at the species level according to four 
demographic viability factors: Abundance, growth rate/productivity, 
spatial structure/connectivity, and diversity. These viability factors 
reflect concepts that are well-founded in conservation biology and that 
individually and collectively provide strong indicators of extinction 
risk.
    We then assess efforts being made to protect the species, to 
determine if these conservation efforts are adequate to mitigate the 
existing threats. Section 4(b)(1)(A) of the ESA requires the Secretary, 
when making a listing determination for a species, to take into 
consideration those efforts, if any, being made by any State or foreign 
nation to protect the species. We also evaluate conservation efforts 
that have not yet been fully implemented or shown to be effective using 
the criteria outlined in the joint NMFS/USFWS Policy for Evaluating 
Conservation Efforts (PECE; 68 FR 15100, March 28, 2003), to determine 
their certainty of implementation and effectiveness. The PECE is 
designed to ensure consistent and adequate evaluation of whether any 
conservation efforts that have been recently adopted or implemented, 
but not yet demonstrated to be effective, will result in recovering the 
species to the point at which listing is not warranted or contribute to 
forming the basis for listing a species as threatened rather than 
endangered. The two basic criteria established by the PECE are: (1) The 
certainty that the conservation efforts will be implemented; and (2) 
the certainty that the efforts will be effective. We consider these 
criteria in each species-specific section, as applicable, below. 
Finally, we re-assess the extinction risk of the species in light of 
the existing conservation efforts.

Status Reviews

    Status reviews for the petitioned species addressed in this finding 
were conducted by NMFS OPR staff. Separate status reviews were done for 
the Eastern Taiwan Strait Indo-Pacific humpback dolphin (Whittaker, 
2014), dusky sea snake (Manning, 2014), Banggai cardinalfish (Conant, 
2014), Harrison's dogfish (Miller, 2014), and the three corals 
(Meadows, 2014). In order to complete the status reviews, we compiled 
information on the species' biology, ecology, life history, threats, 
and conservation status from information contained in the petition, our 
files, a comprehensive literature search, and consultation with 
experts. We also considered information submitted by the public in 
response to our petition findings. Draft status review reports were 
also submitted to independent peer reviewers; comments and information 
received from peer reviewers were addressed and incorporated as 
appropriate before finalizing the draft reports.
    Each status review report provides a thorough discussion of 
demographic risks and threats to the particular species. We considered 
all identified threats, both individually and cumulatively, to 
determine whether the species responds in a way that causes actual 
impacts at the species level. The collective condition of individual 
populations was also considered at the species level, according to the 
four demographic viability factors discussed above.
    The status review reports are available on our Web site (see 
ADDRESSES section). Below we summarize information from those reports 
and the status of each species.

Eastern Taiwan Strait Population of the Indo-Pacific Humpback Dolphin

    The following section describes our analysis of the status of the 
Eastern Taiwan Strait (ETS) population of the Indo-Pacific Humpback 
dolphin, Sousa chinensis.

Species Description

    The Indo-Pacific humpback dolphin, Sousa chinensis (Osbeck, 1765), 
within the genus Sousa, family Delphinidae, and order Cetacea, is 
broadly distributed. The taxonomy of the genus is unresolved and has 
historically been based on morphology, but genetic analyses have 
recently been used. Current taxonomic hypotheses identify Sousa 
chinensis as one of two (Jefferson et al., 2001), three (Rice, 1998), 
or four (Mendez et al., 2013) species within the genus. Each species is 
associated with a unique geographic range, though the species' defined 
ranges vary depending on how many species are recognized. Rice (1998) 
recognizes Sousa teuzii in the eastern Atlantic, Sousa plumbea in the 
western Indo-Pacific, and Sousa chinensis in the eastern Indo-Pacific. 
Mendez et al. (2013) recently identified an as-yet unnamed potential 
new species in waters off of northern Australia. Currently, the 
International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and International 
Whaling Commission (IWC) Scientific Committee

[[Page 74956]]

recognize only two species, Sousa chinensis in the Indo-Pacific, and 
Sousa teuzii in the eastern Atlantic. Here, we follow a similar two-
species taxonomy in our consideration of the genus and identification 
of the species Sousa chinensis. Under that taxonomy, Sousa chinensis' 
range includes nearshore tropical and subtropical habitats in southern 
Africa, the Indian Ocean, North Australia, southern mainland China, 
Hong Kong, and Taiwan (Jefferson et al., 2001; Mendez et al., 2013). We 
chose to follow a two-species taxonomy as it provides the clearest 
genetic, morphological, and geographic delineation of the species and 
is well supported by the current data available. While growing genetic 
and phylogeographic evidence suggests that Sousa chinensis is 
associated with further genetic subdivisions, more data are needed to 
clarify the taxonomy and delineate the geographic boundaries and ranges 
of these additional genetic units (Cockroft et al., 1997; Jefferson et 
al., 2004b; Fr[egrave]re et al., 2008; Fr[egrave]re et al., 2011; Lin 
et al., 2012; Mendez et al., 2013).
    The Indo-Pacific humpback dolphin is easy to distinguish from other 
dolphin species in its range, as it is characterized by a robust body, 
a long, distinct beak, a short dorsal fin atop a wide dorsal hump, and 
round-tipped, broad flippers and flukes (Jefferson et al., 2001). The 
Indo-Pacific humpback dolphin is medium-sized, up to 2.8 m in length, 
weighing 250-280 kg (Ross et al., 1994). Morphological plasticity 
exists among populations of the species and is correlated with their 
geographic distributions (Ross et al., 1994). For example, the Eastern 
Taiwan Strait population, which occurs at the eastern portion of the 
species' range, has a short dorsal fin with a wide base; the base of 
the fin measures 5-10 percent of the body length and slopes gradually 
into the surface of the body. This differs from individuals in the 
western portion of the range, which have a larger hump that comprises 
about 30 percent of body width, and forms the base of an even smaller 
dorsal fin (Ross et al., 1994). Males and females from the Pearl River 
Estuary population, and in other populations of Southeast Asia, do not 
exhibit sexual dimorphism in size, growth patterns, or morphology 
(Jefferson et al., 2001; Jefferson et al., 2012). In contrast, 
individuals from South Africa exhibit sexual dimorphism in terms of 
size and dorsal hump morphology (Ross et al., 1994; Karczmarski et al., 
1997).
    The species occurs in a range of nearshore habitats, including 
estuaries, mangroves, seagrass meadows, coastal lagoons, and sandy 
beaches (Ross et al., 1994). In Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia, 
nearshore ecosystems are associated with tropical seagrass, coral, and 
mangrove lagoons (Beasley et al., 1997; Smith et al., 2003; 
Adulyanukosol et al., 2006; Jaroensutasinee et al., 2011; Cherdsukai et 
al., 2013). In India, the species is associated with nearshore habitat 
consisting of mangroves, corals, and tidal mudflat, heavily influenced 
by monsoons that regulate the influx of freshwater to the system 
(Sutaria et al., 2004). The coast of mainland China is thought to host 
at least eight populations of the species, primarily occurring in 
estuarine systems at the mouths of large rivers (Jefferson et al., 
2001; Jefferson et al., 2004a). Two coastal Chinese populations, in 
close proximity to the population in the Eastern Taiwan Strait, are 
relatively well-studied. These are the Pearl River Estuary/Hong Kong 
population and the Jiulong River Estuary/Xaimen population, both of 
which depend upon ecosystem productivity associated with the nutrient 
output supplied by large rivers (Chen et al., 2008; Chen et al., 2010).
    The Eastern Taiwan Strait population of Sousa chinensis (henceforth 
referred to as the ETS humpback dolphin), for which we were petitioned, 
was first described in 2002 during an exploratory survey of coastal 
waters off of western Taiwan (Wang et al., 2004). Prior to these 
coastal surveys, there are few records mentioning the species in this 
region, save two strandings, a few photographs, and anecdotal reports 
(Wang, 2004), so their history in the region is unclear. Since the 
first survey in 2002, researchers have confirmed their year-round 
presence in the Eastern Taiwan Strait (Wang et al., 2011), inhabiting 
estuarine and coastal waters of central-western Taiwan.
    The ETS humpback dolphin habitat is most similar to that of the 
populations located off the coast of mainland China. Individuals of the 
ETS humpback dolphin population are thought to be restricted to water 
less than 30 meters deep, and most observed sightings have occurred in 
estuarine habitat with significant freshwater input (Wang et al., 
2007b). Across the ETS humpback dolphin habitat, bottom substrate 
consists of soft-sloping muddy sediment with elevated nutrient inputs, 
primarily influenced by river deposition (Sheehy, 2010). These nutrient 
inputs support high primary production, which fuels upper trophic 
levels, contributing to the dolphin's source of food (Jefferson, 2000).
    The Indo-Pacific humpback dolphin is considered a generalist and 
opportunistic piscivore (Barros et al., 2004). As is common to the 
species as a whole, the ETS population uses echolocation and passive 
listening to find its prey. While little is known about the specific 
diet and feeding of the ETS population, diet can be inferred from that 
of other humpback dolphin populations (Barros et al., 2004; Chen et 
al., 2009). In Chinese waters off Hong Kong, the species consumes both 
bottom-dwelling and pelagic fish species, including croakers 
(Sciaenidae), mullets (Mugilidae), threadfins (Polynemidae), and 
herring (Clupeidae) (Barros et al., 2004). Part of the feeding strategy 
for this population may be to induce shoaling of fish by physically 
corralling them, allowing individuals to forage and feed successfully, 
even within murky nearshore waters (Sheehy, 2009). In general, the prey 
species of the humpback dolphin include small fish which are generally 
not commercially valuable to local fisheries (Barros et al., 2004; 
Sheehy, 2009).
    Little is known about the life history and reproduction of ETS 
humpback dolphin. In some cases, comparison of the ETS population with 
other populations may be appropriate, but one needs to be cautious 
about making these comparisons, as environmental factors such as food 
availability and habitat status may affect important rates of 
reproduction and generation time in different populations. A recent 
analysis of life history patterns for individuals in the Pearl River 
Estuary (PRE) population is the best proxy for the ETS population. Like 
the ETS population, the PRE population inhabits estuarine and 
freshwater-influenced environments in similar proximity to 
anthropogenic activity (Jefferson et al., 2012). Maximum longevity for 
the PRE population is estimated to be greater than 38 years (Jefferson 
et al., 2012). Evidence from multi-year photo-analysis of the ETS 
population demonstrated that adult survivorship is high, 0.985, 
suggesting that this population also has a relatively long lifespan 
(Wang et al., 2012). In general, it is inferred that the population has 
long calving intervals, between 3 and 5 years (Jefferson et al., 2012). 
Gestation lasts 10-12 months (Jefferson et al., 2012). Weaning may take 
up to 2 years, and strong female-calf association may last 3-4 years 
(Karczmarski et al., 1997; Karczmarski, 1999). Peak calving activity 
most likely occurs in the warmer months, but exact peak of calving time 
may vary geographically (Jefferson et al., 2012). Age at sexual 
maturity is late, estimated at between 12 and 14 years (Jefferson et 
al., 2012).

[[Page 74957]]

DPS Analysis

    The following section provides our analysis, based on the best 
available science and the DPS Policy, to determine whether the ETS 
humpback dolphin population qualifies as a DPS of the taxon.

Discreteness

    The Services' joint DPS Policy states that a population segment of 
a vertebrate species may be considered discrete if it satisfies either 
one of the following conditions: (1) It is markedly separated from 
other populations of the same taxon as a consequence of physical, 
physiological, ecological, or behavioral factors (quantitative measures 
of genetic or morphological discontinuity may provide evidence of this 
separation); or (2) it is delimited by international governmental 
boundaries within which differences in control of exploitation, 
management of habitat, conservation status, or regulatory mechanisms 
exist that are significant in light of section 4(a)(1)(D) of the ESA 
(61 FR 4722; February 7, 1996).
    Individuals from the ETS population exhibit pigmentation that 
differs significantly from nearby populations along the mainland coast 
of China, and evidence suggests that pigmentation varies geographically 
across the species' range (Jefferson et al., 2001; Jefferson et al., 
2004a; Wang et al., 2008). Across the species, pigmentation changes as 
individuals mature. When young, dolphins appear dark grey with no or 
few light-colored spots; as they age, they transform to mostly white 
(appearing pinkish), as dark spots decrease with age. In particular, 
the developmental transformation of pigment differs significantly 
between ETS and nearby Chinese humpback dolphin populations; 
specifically, the spotting intensity (density of spots) on the dorsal 
fin of the ETS population is significantly greater than that of four 
mainland Chinese populations, including the other nearby populations in 
the Pearl River Estuary and Jiulong River estuaries (Wang et al., 
2008). Significantly greater spotting intensity on the dorsal fin of 
the ETS population is consistent, regardless of age (Wang et al., 
2008). Further, the ETS humpback dolphin never loses the dark dorsal 
fin spots completely, as has been observed in older individuals of 
other humpback dolphin populations (Wang et al., 2008). In contrast, 
dorsal fins of Chinese populations are strikingly devoid of spots, 
compared to their bodies, throughout most of their lives, except when 
they are very young or very old (Wang et al., 2008). These differences 
in pigmentation can be used to reliably differentiate between the ETS 
humpback dolphin and nearby Chinese populations (Wang et al., 2008). 
Thus, we consider these significant differences in pigmentation of the 
ETS humpback dolphin as evidence of its discreteness.
    Several researchers have suggested that the ETS population of the 
humpback dolphin is physically and geographically isolated from other 
populations, based on the fact that individuals have not been observed 
crossing or to have crossed the Strait of Taiwan, despite repeated 
surveys of Chinese and Taiwanese populations using photo-identification 
techniques (Wang et al., 2004; Wang et al., 2007b; Chen et al., 2010; 
Wang et al., 2011; Wang et al., 2012). For instance, a detailed 
analysis of more than 450 individually-recognizable dolphins catalogued 
for Taiwanese and Chinese populations revealed no matches among them 
(Wang et al., 2008). Movement of Sousa chinensis is thought to be 
limited to shallow water and nearshore habitat (Karczmarski et al., 
1997; Hung et al., 2004). Water depth and fast-moving currents within 
the Eastern Taiwan Strait are thought to isolate the ETS population 
from Chinese populations, despite their relatively close geographic 
proximity (Wang et al., 2004; Wang et al., 2008; Wang et al., 2011; Wee 
et al., 2011; Wang et al., 2012). In fact, the ETS population has never 
been observed in waters greater than 30 meters depth (Wang et al., 
2007b). Evidence suggests that the ETS population of the humpback 
dolphin has a narrow home range, and does not migrate seasonally or mix 
with Chinese populations (Wang et al., 2011). The population has been 
shown to inhabit the shallow, narrow habitat on the western coast of 
Taiwan throughout the year, and exhibits strong site fidelity (Wang et 
al., 2011).
    The evidence for geographic isolation is based on limited survey 
data collected since 2002, which focused only on nearshore waters at 
certain times of year and did not survey the Strait waters between 
mainland China and Western Taiwan (Wang et al., 2004; Wang et al., 
2011; Wang et al., 2012). Thus, the possibility for Indo-Pacific 
humpback dolphin migration or emigration across the Strait cannot be 
eliminated entirely. However, the best available scientific information 
indicates that the species is found primarily in shallow nearshore 
habitat, and the ETS population has never been observed in waters 
greater than 30 meters, and thus migration or emigration across the 
deeper Strait is thought to occur rarely, if ever.
    The best available data suggest that the ETS humpback dolphin 
population is discrete from all other populations of the species based 
on its morphological differences. Although limited, the best available 
data also suggest that the ETS humpback dolphin population is 
geographically isolated from other populations. The morphological 
differences and geographic isolation set this population apart from 
other populations of the Indo-Pacific humpback dolphin, and thus, we 
conclude that the ETS humpback dolphin population meets the 
discreteness criterion of the DPS Policy.

Significance

    When the discreteness criterion is met for a potential DPS, as it 
is for the ETS humpback dolphin population, the second element that 
must be considered under the DPS Policy is the significance of the DPS 
to the taxon as a whole. Significance is evaluated in terms of the 
importance of the population segment to the taxon to which it belongs, 
in this case the species Sousa chinensis. Some of the considerations 
that can be used under the DPS Policy to determine a discrete 
population segment's significance to the taxon as a whole include: (1) 
Persistence of the population segment in an unusual or unique 
ecological setting; (2) evidence that loss of the population segment 
would result in a significant gap in the range of the taxon; and (3) 
evidence that the population segment differs markedly from other 
populations of the species in its genetic characteristics.
    The ETS humpback dolphin population occurs in an ecological setting 
similar to populations occurring along the coast of mainland China, and 
many features of its habitat and ecology are similar to those of 
populations throughout the range of the species, as discussed above. 
Throughout its range, the Indo-Pacific humpback dolphin is consistently 
associated with coastal river output and is found in shallow nearshore 
waters (Jefferson et al., 2001). It displays no apparent preference for 
clear or turbid waters (Karczmarski et al., 2000). The habitat and 
ecosystem use of the species differ in some ways geographically, but 
evidence suggests that the dolphin is an opportunistic piscivore, and 
thus does not exhibit unique or restricted feeding ecology across its 
range (Jefferson et al., 2001).
    In Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia, the species occurs in 
tropical seagrass, coral, and mangrove lagoons not present in ETS 
humpback dolphin habitat (Beasley et al., 1997; Smith et al., 2003; 
Adulyanukosol et al., 2006; Jaroensutasinee et al., 2011; Chersukjai

[[Page 74958]]

et al., 2013). In India, the species is associated with nearshore 
habitat consisting of mangroves, corals, and tidal mudflat, heavily 
influenced by monsoons that regulate the influx of freshwater to the 
system (Sutaria et al., 2004). The ETS humpback dolphin habitat is most 
similar to that of coastal Chinese populations, with more temperate 
water, soft muddy substrate, and consistent input from river systems. 
The ETS humpback dolphin habitat differs from the habitat occupied by 
mainland Chinese populations in some ways, with nearby rivers generally 
smaller than those in mainland China, and with warmer waters in the 
winter due to the influence of the Kuroshio Current, which periodically 
moves into the Strait of Taiwan (Chern et al., 1990; Jan et al., 2002; 
Wang et al., 2008). However, feeding ecology, prey availability, and 
prey preference are thought to be similar in mainland China and Taiwan 
(Barros et al., 2004; Wang et al., 2007a), so these small differences 
in habitat do not seem to have significant effects on the species' 
ecology.
    The presumed habitat of the ETS humpback dolphin is narrower in 
offshore width than that of other studied populations of the taxon. For 
instance, the ETS population is thought to inhabit a small area of 
coastal shallow waters within 3 km from the shore (Wang et al., 2007b). 
In contrast, Chinese populations inhabit a broader shallow area ranging 
tens of kilometers offshore, where dolphins can range farther from the 
coastline without moving into deeper water (Hung et al., 2004; Chen et 
al., 2011). While the ETS population exhibits some behavioral 
differences, such as increased cooperative calf-rearing and social 
connectivity, as compared to Chinese populations (Dungan et al., 2011), 
it is uncertain whether or not these differences are adaptive or 
facultative, and simply based on the population's low abundance. Thus, 
insufficient evidence exists to suggest significant differences in the 
dolphin's ecology or adaptation have derived from the differences in 
the physical parameters of its environment. Therefore, differences in 
the habitat and ecological setting of the ETS humpback dolphin do not 
set it apart from the rest of the taxon, and do not appear to relate to 
significant selection pressures affecting the population's foraging, 
behavior, or ecology.
    There is no evidence to suggest that loss of the ETS humpback 
dolphin population would result in a significant gap in the range of 
the taxon. The ETS humpback dolphin population constitutes a small and 
peripheral portion of the entire range of the species, and its loss 
would not inhibit population movement or gene flow among other 
populations of the species (Lin et al., 2012). The ETS humpback dolphin 
is distributed throughout only 512 square kilometers of coastal waters 
off Western Taiwan; this small range is not geographically significant 
in comparison to the taxon's range throughout the coastal Indo-Pacific 
and Indian Oceans.
    There are no data to show that the genetic characteristics of the 
ETS humpback dolphin population differ markedly from other populations 
in a significant way. While pigmentation of the ETS population is 
significantly different from other populations within the taxon (Wang 
et al., 2008), whether the pattern is adaptive or has genetic 
underpinnings is unknown. In other cetacean species, differences in 
pigmentation have been hypothesized to relate to several adaptive 
responses, allowing individuals to hide from predators, communicate 
with conspecifics (promoting group cohesion), and disorient and corral 
prey (Caro et al., 2011). However, the differences in ETS humpback 
dolphin pigmentation may be a result of a genetic bottleneck from the 
small size of this population (less than 100 individuals) and the 
possibility that it represents a single social and/or family group. 
Such small populations are more heavily influenced by genetic drift 
than large populations (Frankham, 1996). Insufficient data exist to 
determine whether significant differences in ETS humpback dolphin 
pigmentation relate to the functional divergence of the population, or 
are simply a product of genetic drift and a genetic bottleneck. The 
best data available thus lead us to conclude that loss of the ETS 
humpback dolphin population would not result in significant loss of 
overall genetic or ecological diversity of the taxon as a whole.

DPS Conclusion and Proposed Determination

    According to our analysis, the ETS humpback dolphin population is 
considered discrete based on its unique pigmentation patterns, which 
set it apart morphologically from the rest of the taxon, and evidence 
for its geographic isolation. However, while discrete, the ETS humpback 
dolphin population does not meet any criteria for significance to the 
taxon as a whole. The ecological setting it occupies is similar to that 
of the rest of the species, loss of the population would not constitute 
a significant gap in the taxon's extensive range, and no genetic or 
other data have demonstrated that the population makes a significant 
contribution to the adaptive, ecological, or genetic diversity of the 
taxon. As such, based on the best available data, we conclude that the 
ETS humpback dolphin population is not a DPS and thus does not qualify 
for listing under the ESA. This is a final action, and, therefore, we 
do not solicit comments on it.

Dusky Sea Snake

    The section below presents our analysis of the status of the dusky 
sea snake, Aipysurus fuscus. Further details can be found in Manning 
(2014).

Species Description

    The dusky sea snake, Aipysurus fuscus, is a species within the 
family Elapidae, which is a very diverse family of venomous snakes. The 
genus Aipysurus contains seven species, six of which are restricted to 
Australasian waters. The dusky sea snake is brown, blackish-brown, or 
purplish-brown with wide ventral scales and diamond-shaped body scales 
that are smooth and imbricate (i.e., overlapping). There are generally 
19 scale rows around the neck, 19 around the mid-body, and 155 to 180 
ventral scales (Rasmussen, 2000). The dusky sea snake is completely 
aquatic and, like all sea snakes, has a paddle-like tail for swimming. 
Its maximum total length is about 90 cm (Rasmussen, 2000). Growth rates 
for the dusky sea snake have not been documented, but reported growth 
rates for other sea snakes range from 0.07-1.0 mm per day and decline 
with age (Heatwole, 1997). The maximum lifespan for dusky sea snakes 
has been assumed to be about 10 years, and age at first maturity has 
been assumed to be about 3-4 years (Lukoschek et al., 2010). Generation 
length is thought to be approximately 5 years (Lukoschek et al., 2010).
    Despite its aquatic existence, and like all reptiles, the dusky sea 
snake lacks gills and must surface to breathe air. Dive durations vary 
by species, but most sea snakes typically stay submerged for about 30 
minutes, and some for up to 1.5-2.5 hours (Heatwole and Seymour, 1975). 
Maximum dive depth for dusky sea snakes is unknown, but co-occurring 
members of this genus are considered ``shallow'' and ``intermediate'' 
depth species that dive no deeper than 20 m or 50 m, respectively 
(Heatwole and Seymour, 1975).
    The dusky sea snake is viviparous, meaning embryos develop 
internally and young undergo live birth. Because this species never 
ventures on land, mating occurs at sea and young are born alive in the 
water. Within the genus Aipysurus, the number of young per

[[Page 74959]]

brood is small, usually less than four, and young are relatively large 
at birth (Cogger, 1975). Timing and seasonality of the dusky sea 
snake's breeding cycles are unknown, and very little is known about the 
juvenile life stage.
    The dusky sea snake preys mainly on labrid (e.g., wrasses) and 
gobiid (e.g., gobies) fishes, and to a lesser extent, fish eggs 
(McCosker, 1975). Food competition among sympatric sea snakes is 
thought to be minimal, based on examinations of diet composition for 
sympatric sea snakes (McCosker, 1975; Voris and Voris, 1983). Feeding 
behavior of dusky sea snakes has not been thoroughly investigated; 
however, during surveys at Ashmore Reef, Australia, Guinea and Whiting 
(2005) commonly saw dusky sea snakes over sand bottom habitat and 
watched one snake actually force its head and about 15 percent of its 
body into the sand. However, because it emerged without a prey item 
(Guinea and Whiting, 2005), it is unclear whether this was foraging or 
some other behavior. Like their terrestrial relatives, sea snakes 
swallow their prey whole and therefore must have some strategy for 
subduing them. McCosker (1975) hypothesized that the highly toxic venom 
of sea snakes is probably more of a feeding adaptation than a defensive 
one.
    The dusky sea snake is a benthic, coral reef-associated species 
endemic to several shallow emergent reefs of the Sahul Shelf off the 
coast of Western Australia in the Timor Sea, between Timor and 
Australia. These reefs are relatively isolated and lie at the edge of 
the continental shelf over several hundred kilometers from the 
mainland. The dusky sea snake has been reported to occur at Ashmore, 
Scott, Seringapatam, and Hibernia Reefs and Cartier Island; however, 
individual surveys have not consistently recorded dusky sea snakes at 
all of these locations. For example, in transect surveys conducted by 
Minton and Heatwole (1975) over several weeks during December 1972 and 
January 1973 at Ashmore, Scott, and Hibernia Reefs and Cartier Island, 
dusky sea snakes were recorded at Scott and Ashmore reefs only. 
Extensive surveys conducted more recently at Ashmore Reef, where dusky 
sea snakes were once relatively common, have located no specimens 
(Guinea, 2013; Lukoschek et al., 2013). Lukoschek et al. (2010) 
estimated that the area of occurrence of dusky sea snakes is probably 
less than 500 km\2\.
    During their surveys, Minton and Heatwole (1975) observed dusky sea 
snakes in shallow water (<10 m) as well as in the 12 to 25 m depth-
zone. They were observed in areas of moderate to heavy coral growth, 
but they were also observed to congregate in sandy-bottomed gullies and 
channels (Minton and Heatwole, 1975). Home-range size and site fidelity 
of individual dusky sea snakes has not been evaluated. However, a 
short-term (6-9 days), telemetry study on the sympatric olive sea 
snakes (A. laevis) and a long-term (8-year), mark-recapture study on 
the turtle-headed sea snake (Emydocephalus annulatus) suggest that 
home-ranges of sea snakes are small, movement of adults is very 
limited, and longer-distance dispersal may be due mainly to passive 
transport, such as by currents and storms (Burns and Heatwole, 1998; 
Lukoschek and Shine 2012). While it is very plausible that adult A. 
fuscus are similar to these other species, research to evaluate adult 
and juvenile A. fuscus habitat use and movement is needed.
    Sea snakes typically have patchy distributions and can be found in 
very dense aggregations in certain locations within their ranges 
(Heatwole, 1997). This patchiness complicates efforts to understand 
habitat use patterns, as seemingly suitable habitat can remain 
unoccupied. On a smaller spatial scale, distributions of sea snake 
fauna on Australian reefs appear to be influenced by water depth, 
substrate type, and feeding strategies (McCosker, 1975; Heatwole, 
1975b). Other biotic factors, such as limited juvenile dispersal, may 
also contribute to the observed patchy distributions (Lukoschek et al., 
2007a). Overall, however, causative factors for observed distributions 
are not completely understood.

Population Abundance, Distribution, and Structure

    There are no historical or current population estimates for the 
dusky sea snake. However, multiple reefs have been surveyed repeatedly, 
and although survey methodologies have varied, the data provide some 
indication of population trends for some locations. For Ashmore Reef in 
particular, the survey data provide a strong indication of severe 
population decline and possible extirpation. Older surveys dating from 
1972 to 2002 by various researchers indicate that the relative 
abundance of A. fuscus was fairly consistent and represented about 10-
23 percent of the sea snakes observed (see Table 1, Manning, 2014). A 
footnote in Smith (1926) also indicates that a sample of 27 dusky sea 
snakes (out of an ~100-specimen sea snake collection) had recently been 
collected for him at Ashmore Reef. The dusky sea snake, however, has 
not been recorded in a single survey conducted at Ashmore Reef after 
2005, despite considerable effort (Lukoschek et al., 2013; Table 1, 
Manning, 2014). Based on reef area data reported in Skewes et al. 
(1999), Ashmore Reef represents about 40 percent of the dusky sea 
snake's historical reef habitat. Extirpation from this reef would 
represent a substantial change in the species' distribution and 
abundance.
    A survey in 2005 at Hibernia Reef indicated a relatively low 
abundance of A. fuscus, and the most recent surveys, conducted in 2012 
and 2013, have failed to detect any dusky sea snakes despite extensive 
survey effort (Guinea, 2005; Guinea, 2013). Dusky sea snakes were 
observed in surveys conducted at Scott Reef in 1972/73, 2006, 2012 and 
2013; however, their relative abundance varies across the surveys, and 
no trends are detectable given the limited data (see Table 1, Manning, 
2014). For example, Guinea (2012) visited Scott Reef in February, 2006, 
and reported that dusky sea snakes, as the third-most abundant species, 
made up 15 percent of the total sea snake sightings (Guinea, 2013). 
Portions of Scott Reef were surveyed again in 2012 and 2013, and dusky 
sea snakes made up only 3.2 percent and 7.4 percent of the total 
sightings respectively for each year (Guinea, 2013). At Seringapatam 
Reef and Cartier Island, A. fuscus is rare or potentially absent. 
Overall, while these limited abundance data are very difficult to 
interpret, they indicate that dusky sea snakes have not been present in 
high numbers in any recent reef surveys (Table 1, Manning, 2014).
    The dusky sea snake has a restricted range, and structure and 
connectivity of populations is uncertain. Assuming that A. fuscus is 
extirpated from Ashmore Reef, Sanders et al. (2014) recently estimated 
that the dusky sea snake's range is now less than 262 sq km. Although 
structure and connectivity of reef populations of A. fuscus have not 
been studied directly, some information may be gleaned from several 
studies on the olive sea snake, A. laevis, a sympatric congener that is 
larger in size, more common, and more widely distributed than A. 
fuscus, but is very closely related to A. fuscus (Sanders et al., 
2013b). As mentioned above, a short-term (6-9 days) tracking study on 
A. laevis suggests that adults of this species have small home ranges 
(1,500-1,800 sq m) and undergo limited active dispersal (Burns and 
Heatwole, 1998). Results of that study are somewhat supported by 
analyses by Lukoschek et al. (2007b) of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) from 
354 olive sea snakes collected across its range, including some samples 
from Hibernia, Scott, and

[[Page 74960]]

Ashmore reefs and Cartier Island. Based on their results, Lukoschek et 
al. (2007b) concluded that gene flow among the reefs of the Timor Sea 
is low, and that olive sea snakes at these reefs have been diverging 
for some time. A subsequent analysis of microsatellite DNA from the 
same specimens indicates that two of the most distant Timor reef 
populations of A. laevis are significantly diverged (Lukoschek et al., 
2008). However, the degrees of divergence of other reef populations 
were not statistically significant, and there was no clear isolation-
by-distance relationship (Lukoschek et al., 2008). Although not 
conclusive, the available information for the olive sea snake and the 
fact that dusky sea snakes also lack a dispersive larval phase, suggest 
connectivity of A. fuscus may be limited among some reefs within the 
region. Limited inter-population exchange would increase the extinction 
risk and reduce the recovery potential for local populations that have 
experienced severe declines or have been lost.

Summary of Factors Affecting the Dusky Sea Snake

    Available information regarding current, historical, and potential 
threats to the dusky sea snake was thoroughly reviewed (Manning, 2014). 
Although causes for observed declines in dusky sea snake have not been 
conclusively determined, we found that the species is being threatened 
by hybridization. Other possible threats include vessels, pollution, 
climate change, and inadequate regulatory mechanisms. We summarize 
information regarding each of these threats below according to the 
factors specified in section 4(a)(1) of the ESA. Available information 
does not indicate that disease, predation, or overutilization 
(including bycatch) are operative threats on this species; therefore, 
we do not discuss those further here. See Manning (2014) for additional 
discussion of all ESA Section 4(a)(1) threat categories.

The Present or Threatened Destruction, Modification, or Curtailment of 
Its Habitat or Range

    Aipysurus fuscus is dependent on coral reefs for prey and shelter, 
and loss of live coral is a possible mechanism contributing to the 
decline of A. fuscus at locations such as Ashmore Reef. Coral reefs of 
the Sahul Shelf experienced widespread bleaching in response to El 
Ni[ntilde]o events in 1998 and 2003. Ashmore Reef experienced bleaching 
in 1998 and again, to an apparently greater extent, in 2003 (Lukoschek 
et al., 2013). However, because there are no estimates of coral 
coverage prior to 1998, the extent of coral loss following the 1998 
event has not been quantified. Widespread mortality of corals was 
documented in response to the 2003 bleaching event, and average live 
coral coverage was reduced to 10 percent (Kospartov et al., 2006; as 
cited in Lukoschek et al., 2013). Surveys conducted in 2005 and 2009 
indicated that recovery of corals at Ashmore Reef was rapid but delayed 
by about 7 years (Ceccarelli et al., 2011). Overall, there has been an 
eight-fold increase in hard coral coverage from 1998 to 2009 (Hale and 
Butcher, 2013), with all of the recorded recovery occurring after 2005. 
Meanwhile, survey data suggest complete loss of dusky sea snakes at 
Ashmore Reef after 2005. Existing survey data also show sharp declines 
in total sea snake abundance and species diversity at Ashmore Reef 
following both the 1998 and 2003 bleaching events (Lukoschek et al., 
2013). These patterns are consistent with a hypothesis that loss of 
live corals affects reef-associated sea snakes.
    The patterns at Ashmore Reef are contrasted, however, by those 
observed at Scott Reef. Following the 1998 bleaching event, a greater 
than 80 percent loss of hard and soft coral cover occurred, which 
translated into a reduction of live coral coverage to a total of 
roughly 10 percent (Smith et al., 2008). The 1998 El Ni[ntilde]o event 
represents the most extreme temperature anomaly recorded for Scott 
Reef, and involved a rapid rise in water temperatures that remained 
above normal for two months (NOAA, 2013). Almost 6 years after the 
bleaching event (in 2004), the hard corals had partially recovered to 
40 percent of their pre-bleaching cover, the soft corals showed no sign 
of recovery, and community composition of corals remained significantly 
altered (Smith et al., 2008). Within 12 years after the event (by 
2010), coral cover, recruitment, community composition, and generic 
diversity were similar to pre-bleaching years (Gilmour et al., 2010). 
Several lesser disturbances, including two cyclones and the 2003 El 
Ni[ntilde]o event, occurred during this time period and may have slowed 
the rate of recovery to some extent (Gilmour et al., 2013). Available 
sea snake survey data, spanning 1972-2013, with surveys in 1972-73, 
2006, 2012, and 2013, do not appear to indicate a major decline in 
abundance of dusky sea snakes at Scott Reef, which were relatively 
common during the surveys conducted by Guinea (2012) in 2006. However, 
the temporal gaps in these survey data, especially from 1973 to 2006, 
could conceal shorter-term patterns.
    A comprehensive understanding of the relationship between live 
coral cover and dusky sea snake abundance likely requires more detailed 
information regarding coral species composition, habitat complexity, 
and coral and prey fish resiliency relative to both the 1998 and 2003 
bleaching events. Such an analysis might offer further insights into 
the differing response patterns at the two reefs, and an indication of 
whether sea snake abundance is driven by live coral coverage over 
timescales relevant to these disturbances. At this time, however, 
because a clear or consistent pattern does not emerge from the 
available data regarding dusky sea snake abundances at Ashmore and 
Scott reefs in relationship to these two bleaching events, we cannot 
conclude that loss of live coral is contributing to the decline of the 
dusky sea snake.
    The reefs where dusky sea snakes are found lie more than several 
hundred kilometers offshore and thus enjoy a considerable degree of 
protection from human activities and land-based sources of pollution. 
Despite this remoteness, the reefs may experience some degradation as a 
result of vessel traffic. Anchor damage, pollution from contaminated 
bilge water, and marine debris are among the potential issues 
identified at Ashmore Reef, which experiences a relatively high level 
of traffic from Indonesian fishers, yachts, merchant ships, and illegal 
entry vessels (Whiting, 2000; Lukoschek et al., 2013). The mechanisms 
for and extent to which these boat-based habitat threats are impacting 
dusky or any other sea snake species of the Timor Sea reefs are 
unknown.
    The extensive oil and gas industry activity in this region may also 
be a possible source of disturbance affecting dusky sea snakes and 
their habitat. Exploration and extraction activities within the Ashmore 
Platform began in 1968 (Geoscience Australia, 2012) and are expected to 
continue for some time, given the significant resources within this 
region. Ashmore Reef and Cartier Islands lie about 50-80 km west of the 
main offshore wells in the Timor Sea, and the closest exploration wells 
are 36 km away (Russell et al., 2004). However, Scott Reef lies 
directly above a significant portion of the Torosa Reservoir, where 
drilling for natural gas is expected to start by 2017. The development 
of the natural gas facility in this area will mean increased vessel 
traffic and potentially light, sound, and chemical pollution. The area 
is also expected to experience minor subsidence or compaction as the 
gas is removed (Woodside Energy LTD, 2013).

[[Page 74961]]

Whether, and the degree to which, any of these threats or a combination 
of these threats will impact dusky sea snakes is not yet known.
    Unfortunately, extremely limited information also exists regarding 
the toxic effects of oil exposure on sea snakes. Oil spills, which 
occur more frequently as a result of vessel or pipeline incidents 
rather than exploration and drilling activities (www.amsa.gov.au), have 
also not occurred very often in this region. Some information is 
available from the August 2009 explosion of the West Atlas oil rig on 
the Montara Well, which leaked oil and gas uncontrollably into the 
Timor Sea for 74 days until the well was finally capped in November 
2009. Considered one of the worst oil-related spills to have ever 
occurred in Australia, the Montara leak was analogous in nature to the 
Deepwater Horizon disaster of April 2010 in the Gulf of Mexico. In an 
effort to rapidly assess impacts to multiple taxa, Watson et al. (2009) 
conducted ship-based transect surveys in areas around the Atlas 
drilling platform in September 2009. They did not observe or identify 
any dusky sea snakes; however, they did observe ``lethargic sea snakes 
lying in thick oil (i.e., not moving much when approached, unable to 
dive)'' and collected a dead horned sea snake (Acalyptophis peronii) 
from oil-affected waters for further analysis (Watson et al., 2009). 
The necropsy report indicated that this snake was in good physical 
condition, with no visible external or internal pathologies, and no oil 
was detected in swab samples of the skin (Gagnon and Rawson, 2010). 
Chemical analysis of tissues clearly indicated that exposure to crude 
oil occurred through ingestion of prey and not through inhalation 
(Gagnon and Rawson, 2010). Acalyptophis peronii is considered more of a 
diet specialist than the dusky sea snake and primarily consumes 
burrowing gobies (McCosker, 1975; Voris and Voris, 1983). Because they 
saw no physical damage to the gut structure and no contamination of the 
tissues, Gagnon and Rawson (2010) concluded it was unlikely that oil 
ingestion was the primary cause of death. Tests for presence of 
chemical dispersants used during the spill-response were not conducted.
    A necropsy was also performed on a dead sea snake landed by a 
commercial fisherman operating in the vicinity of the West Atlas spill 
on September 14, 2009 (Gagnon, 2009). This specimen was identified as 
Hydrophis elegans, which is a relatively widespread and abundant 
species that preys on eels and other fishes (McCosker, 1975; Voris and 
Voris, 1983). The necropsy indicated that the snake had fed recently 
and that the stomach contents were contaminated with oil (Gagnon, 
2009). Relatively high levels of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons were 
also detected in the lungs, trachea, and muscle tissue (Gagnon, 2009). 
Neither of two dispersant chemicals used to treat the spill were 
detected in lung samples (Gagnon, 2009). The necropsy report concluded 
that the likely cause of death for this specimen was exposure to 
petroleum hydrocarbons (Gagnon, 2009).
    In 2012 and 2013, Guinea (2013) conducted surveys to evaluate the 
potential impacts of the Montara leak on species of marine reptiles. 
Potentially impacted areas surveyed included Ashmore Reef, Cartier 
Island, and Hibernia Reef; Scott and Seringapatam reefs were surveyed 
as control reefs (Guinea, 2013). Ashmore Reef and Cartier Island are 
167 km west-north-west and 108 km west from the Montara well, 
respectively. Seringapatam and Scott reefs are several hundred km 
south-east of the Montara well and far from modeled oil trajectories 
(Guinea, 2013). The extensive survey efforts of Guinea (2013) did not 
indicate any impact of the hydrocarbon release on marine reptiles (sea 
turtles and sea snakes) of the potentially affected reefs. Of the reefs 
surveyed, Hibernia Reef and Cartier Island had the highest sea snake 
density; however, no sea snakes were observed at Ashmore Reef, where 
sea snake abundance and diversity had already declined to very low 
levels prior to the 2009 incident (Guinea, 2013). Overall, these data 
suggest that while there are likely to be acute impacts to sea snakes 
in response to major spills, it is unlikely that pollution stemming 
from oil and gas industry activities has contributed to the observed 
declines of the dusky sea snake.
    Overall, based on the existing information, we conclude that there 
is a low likelihood that these habitat-related threats have contributed 
to the observed decline of the dusky sea snake. At this time, there is 
insufficient information to indicate whether and how the dusky sea 
snake will be affected by these habitat issues in the future. We do 
expect that each of the various habitat-related issues summarized above 
will continue well into the future, and some may worsen. Given that El 
Ni[ntilde]o and its associated warming of equatorial Pacific Ocean 
waters is a natural and reoccurring climate phenomenon, coral bleaching 
in response to sufficiently strong El Ni[ntilde]o events will continue. 
Furthermore, because climate warming as a consequence of carbon dioxide 
emissions is expected to continue (IPCC, 2013), and elevated sea 
surface temperatures are expected to rise at an accelerated rate (Lough 
et al., 2012), loss of corals through bleaching events is expected to 
increase. The expansion of Australia's oil and gas exploration and 
extraction in the Timor Sea may also result in an increased risk of oil 
spills and additional habitat threats for dusky sea snakes.

Inadequacy of Existing Regulatory Mechanisms

    The dusky sea snake and its habitat receive a significant degree of 
regulatory protections. The largest potential gap in existing 
regulatory mechanism may be for threats related to climate change. Oil 
spills, while rare and unpredictable, and other oil and gas industry 
activities may also pose threats to the species as a consequence of 
inadequate management and regulation. We summarize the available 
information regarding related regulatory protections below; a more in-
depth discussion is available in Manning (2014).
    Along with all of Australia's other hydrophiine sea snakes, dusky 
sea snakes are listed under the Commonwealth Environment Protection and 
Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act). The EPBC Act provides a 
legal framework to protect and manage Australia's nationally and 
internationally important flora, fauna, ecological communities, and 
heritage places that are of national environmental significance. Under 
the EPBC Act, no one may ``kill, injure, take, trade, keep or move a 
member of a native species'' within any reserve without a permit 
(Commonwealth of Australia, 2000). The EPBC Act requires that surveys 
be conducted for listed marine species. The EPBC Act also provides that 
the Australian Government Minister for the Environment may make or 
adopt a recovery plan for a listed species, to set out the research and 
management actions needed to stop the decline of the species and 
support its recovery. There are no recovery plans in place for any sea 
snake species, however (www.environment.gov.au/topics/biodiversity/
threatened-species-ecological-communities/recovery-plans). Thus, while 
the dusky snake receives substantial protection under the EPBC Act, 
without a recovery plan, that protection may not be enough to help 
stabilize and recover the species.
    Two of the five main reefs within the dusky sea snake's historical 
range, Ashmore Reef and Cartier Island, are protected reserves. Ashmore 
Reef National Nature Reserve was established

[[Page 74962]]

in 1983, under the National Parks and Wildlife Conservation Act 1975 (a 
predecessor to the EPBC Act), and later listed as a Ramsar Site in 
2000, under the Ramsar Convention, which is an intergovernmental treaty 
on sustainable use of wetlands. In Australia, Ramsar Sites receive 
protection under the EPBC Act: Any action that will have or is likely 
to have a significant impact on a Ramsar Site requires an environmental 
assessment and approval. The EPBC Act also sets forth national 
standards for managing, planning, monitoring, involving the community 
in, and conducting environmental assessments of Ramsar Sites to insure 
consistent compliance with the Ramsar Convention. Cartier Island, a 
former British Air Force bombing range, was designated as a Marine 
Reserve in 2000. These two reserves cover a combined area of 750 km\2\ 
and are both assigned to IUCN category Ia--strict nature reserve. IUCN 
category Ia areas are protected to preserve biodiversity and maintain 
the areas for the benefit of scientific research. Human access to such 
areas is tightly controlled and limited. A small section of Ashmore 
Reserve is managed as IUCN category II--national park. Such areas are 
managed to protect ecosystems and biodiversity, and while still 
restricted, human visitation is not as limited as for category Ia 
areas. No fishing or harvest of any biota is allowed within the 
reserves, with the limited exception of finfish fishing within the 
category II area of Ashmore Reef, and then only as long as the fish are 
used for relatively immediate consumption. Given the lack of clearly 
identified habitat-related or human-disturbance-related threats to the 
dusky sea snake, there is no indication that these reserves and area 
protections are inadequate such that they have contributed to the 
observed decline of the species.
    According to the Australia Department of Sustainability, 
Environment, Water, Population, and Communities (DSEWPC) 2012 Report 
Card for marine reptiles listed under the EPBC Act, pollution from 
offshore oil rigs and operations is a potential concern for sea snakes 
(DSEWPC, 2012). This report also states that Australia has a strong 
system for regulating the oil and gas industry and that this system was 
strengthened further in the wake of the Montara oil spill. Details on 
how any particular processes or regulations were strengthened are not 
provided in this report and could not be found. Although oil spills 
pose a potential threat to the health and status of the dusky sea 
snake, oil spills are relatively rare, and there is insufficient 
information to indicate that the existing regulatory mechanisms are 
inadequate or that they have contributed to the decline of this 
species.
    Potential threats to dusky sea snakes stemming from anthropogenic 
climate change include elevated sea surface temperature, ocean 
acidification, and increased coral bleaching events (see below). 
Impacts of climate change on the marine environment are already being 
observed in Australia and elsewhere (Melillo et al., 2014; Poloczanska 
et al., 2012), and the most recent United Nations Intergovernmental 
Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) assessment provides a high degree of 
certainty that human sources of greenhouse gases are contributing to 
global climate change (IPCC, 2013). Ocean temperatures around Australia 
have increased by 0.68 [deg]C since 1910-1929 (Poloczanska et al., 
2012), and carbon dioxide inputs have lowered ocean pH by 0.1 units 
since 1750 (Howard et al., 2009). Australia and other countries have 
responded to climate change through various international and national 
mechanisms. Australia signed on to the Kyoto Protocol in 2007 and has 
active domestic and international programs to lower greenhouse gas 
emissions (www.climatechange.gov.au/). However, in Australia, there 
appear to be no specific actions to address potential climate change 
effects on marine reptiles beyond monitoring (Fuentes et al., 2012). 
Because climate change related threats have not been clearly or 
mechanistically linked to decline of dusky sea snakes, the adequacy of 
existing or developing measures to control climate change threats is 
not possible to fully assess, nor are sufficient data available to 
determine what regulatory measures would be needed to adequately 
protect this species from climate change. While it is not possible to 
conclude that the current efforts have been inadequate, such that they 
have contributed to the decline of this species, we consider it likely 
that dusky sea snakes will be negatively impacted by climate change, 
given the predictions of widespread and potentially permanent damage to 
coral reefs in Australia (IPCC, 2013).
    Overall, we do not find there is substantial evidence indicating 
that A. fuscus is currently threatened by the lack of adequate 
regulatory mechanisms. Beyond the direct protection the species 
receives through its listing under the EPBC Act, the dusky sea snake 
receives additional direct and indirect protection within the Ashmore 
Reef and Cartier Island Marine Reserves. Given the predictions of 
worsening damage to coral reefs in Australia in response to climate 
change (IPCC, 2013), the largest potential future gap in the existing 
regulatory mechanisms appears to be related to climate change.

Other Natural or Manmade Factors Affecting Their Continued Existence

    Elevated sea surface temperature as a consequence of climate change 
has been proposed as a possible threat to sea snakes, and we have 
addressed habitat-related effects above. The IUCN Red List assessment 
for A. fuscus, suggests that climate-induced increases in water 
temperature may actually exceed the upper lethal limit for A. fuscus, 
and thereby pose a threat to the species (Lukoschek et al., 2010). 
These authors assumed an upper lethal limit of 36 [deg]C, based on data 
for the pelagic sea snake, Pelamis platurus. Experiments to measure the 
thermal tolerances of A. fuscus have not been conducted.
    Sea snakes, like all reptiles, are ectotherms, and thus to a great 
extent are physiologically affected by temperature. On a large 
geographic scale, the distribution of sea snakes is considered to be 
dictated by ocean temperatures: Sea snakes generally do not occur in 
waters below about 18 [deg]C (Davenport, 2011). Most sea snakes can 
tolerate temperatures up to a mean of about 39-40 [deg]C, but 
tolerances may vary with the size of the snake and the rate of 
temperature change (Heatwole et al., 2012). Also, although sea snakes 
are able to dive to avoid extreme temperatures of surface waters, they 
have limited capacity to acclimate and cannot thermoregulate (Heatwole 
et al., 2012).
    Sea surface temperatures vary seasonally within the Timor Sea. The 
highest recorded oceanic water temperature in the Ashmore region is 31 
[deg]C, and the highest recorded lagoon water temperature is 35.4 
[deg]C (Commonwealth of Australia, 2002). These temperatures are below 
the assumed upper lethal temperature limit for dusky sea snakes; but 
Australia's average ocean temperatures have increased by over half a 
degree since 1910-1929, and the rate of warming has accelerated since 
the mid-20th century (Poloczanska et al., 2012). Given the thermal 
tolerances of other sea snakes and the ocean temperatures currently 
experienced by A. fuscus at present, it is very unlikely that elevated 
ocean temperature has been a source of mortality. However, it is 
plausible that a continuation of the observed rate of ocean warming 
would, in the distant future, result in negative physiological 
consequences for A. fuscus.

[[Page 74963]]

    Hybridization and introgression have recently been identified by 
Sanders et al. (2014) as a threat to the continued existence of A. 
fuscus. Hybridization, or the production of viable offspring through 
the crossing of genetically distinct taxa or groups, occurs in the wild 
for about 10 percent of animal species (Mallet, 2005). Hybridization 
can lead to introgression, or the integration of foreign genetic 
material into a genome. The conservation concern in this particular 
case is that reproductive barriers between the olive sea snake, A. 
laevis, and the dusky sea snake, A. fuscus, appear to be breaking down, 
potentially allowing A. fuscus to undergo reverse speciation.
    The dusky sea snake co-occurs with the closely-related olive sea 
snake throughout its range, and the two species are thought to have 
shared a common ancestor approximately 500,000 years ago (Sanders et 
al., 2013b). The olive sea snake is a relatively abundant and much more 
widely distributed species compared to the dusky sea snake. Although 
similar in appearance, the two species can be distinguished based on 
body scale rows, body size, and color pattern. Sanders et al. (2014) 
analyzed 11 microsatellite markers for A. fuscus and A. laevis across 
four reefs (Ashmore, Hibernia, Scott, and Seringapatam) to assess 
inter-specific gene flow and introgression. Results of their genetic 
analyses indicate significant and asymmetric gene flow, with higher 
rates of introgression from A. laevis into the smaller A. fuscus 
population (Sanders et al., 2014). A high frequency of hybrids was also 
found at each of the four reefs included in the study area. Forty-three 
percent of the snakes sampled (n=7) at Ashmore, 55 percent of the 
snakes sampled (n= 42) at Scott Reef, and 42 percent of the snakes 
sampled (n=12) at Seringapatam Reef were identified as hybrids (Sanders 
et al., 2014). At Hibernia Reef, 95 percent of the snakes sampled 
(n=19) were hybrids (Sanders et al., 2014). Phenotypically, the 
majority of hybrids resembled the olive sea snake (Sanders et al., 
2014). Whether the observed hybridization is a purely natural process 
or has human causes is not yet known. Regardless, the high rates of 
hybridization of A. fuscus with another species across its range may 
lead to the eventual disappearance of this taxonomic species and is a 
threat to its survival.

Extinction Risk

    Although accurate and precise data for many demographic 
characteristics of dusky sea snakes are lacking, the best available 
data provide multiple lines of evidence indicating that this species 
currently faces a high risk of extinction. The probable extirpation of 
the dusky sea snake from Ashmore Reef, which constitutes about 40 
percent of the historical reef habitat, represents a contraction of an 
already limited range for this species. Loss of dusky sea snakes from 
Ashmore Reef and low relative abundances at all other reefs, coupled 
with high rates of hybridization throughout the range and a presumed 
low rate of dispersal, suggest that the species is declining and 
unlikely to recover without intervention. The interaction of the 
threats of low and declining abundance, limited dispersal, and high 
rates of hybridization all suggest a high risk of extinction in the 
near term.

Protective Efforts

    As mentioned previously, all of Australia's hydrophiine sea snakes 
are listed and protected under the EPBC Act, making it illegal to kill, 
injure, take, trade, or move dusky sea snakes in Commonwealth waters 
without a permit (DSEWPC, 2012a). The EPBC Act also requires that 
surveys be conducted for listed marine species.
    Sea snakes are also identified as a ``conservation value'' in 
Australia's North-west Marine Bioregional Plan (DSEWPC, 2012b). Marine 
bioregional plans are meant to improve the way decisions are made under 
the EPBC Act, particularly with respect to balancing protection of 
marine biodiversity with the sustainable use of natural resources. The 
North-west Plan identifies activities that may affect sea snakes and 
thus require prior approval. National heritage places are also listed 
and protected under the EPBC Act. Ashmore, Scott, and Seringapatam 
reefs are all listed on Australia's Commonwealth Heritage List, and 
under the EPBC Act, approval must be obtained before any action takes 
place that could have a significant impact on the national heritage 
values of these areas.
    Also mentioned previously were the various habitat protections 
currently in place that directly and indirectly protect the coral reefs 
within the dusky sea snake's range. For example, the Ashmore 
Commonwealth Marine Reserve, which includes 583 km\2\ of sandy islands, 
coral reefs, and surrounding waters up to 50 m deep (Commonwealth of 
Australia, 2002), is almost completely closed to the general public. 
Permits may be issued to authorize visits for tourism or recreation. 
There are 1-2 visits per year by commercial tourism vessels to view 
wildlife, and about 15-20 recreational yachts that visit each year 
(Hale and Butcher, 2013). Indonesians have fished this site for 
centuries and subsistence fishing is allowed in only the IUCN category 
II portion of the reserve (Hale and Butcher, 2013). No commercial 
fishing is allowed in any part of the Reserve. The relatively pristine 
state of the site makes it attractive for the long-term monitoring and 
other scientific projects that are conducted there (Hale and Butcher, 
2013). Starting in the late 1980's, Environment Australia (EA) 
contracted a private vessel and crew to undertake on-site management at 
the Reserve; however, as of 2000, Australian Customs Service took over 
this responsibility (Whiting, 2000). Enforcement of protections at the 
Reserve depends largely on the presence of Customs officials, which is 
not quite continuous (Lukoschek et al., 2013; Whiting, 2000).
    The Cartier Island Commonwealth Marine Reserve, designated in 2000 
under the EPBC Act, is completely closed to the public. No commercial 
or recreational fishing is allowed. General access and several specific 
activities, such as scientific research, photography and tourism, may 
be allowed with prior approval from the Director of National Parks 
issued under the EPBC Act (see http://www.environment.gov.au/topics/marine/marine-reserves/north-west/cartier-activities).
    Since the early 18th century, Indonesian fishers have visited and 
fished reefs within the Timor Sea, mainly in search of trepang, 
trochus, turtle, shark fin, and reef fishes (Commonwealth of Australia, 
2002). In 1974, a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was established 
between Australia and Indonesia that set out arrangements by which 
traditional fishers may access resources in Australia's territorial 
sea. Because of its shape, the area covered by this MOU is often 
referred to as the MOU Box. The MOU Box, which covers an area of about 
50,000 km\2\, includes the five main reefs where the dusky sea snake 
occurs (Skewes et al., 1999). The marine resources within this area are 
managed by the Australian Government, and traditional fishing by 
Indonesian fishers is allowed. However, as discussed above, certain 
restrictions apply within the Marine Reserves. Traditional Indonesian 
fishers may access parts of the Ashmore Reserve for shelter and 
freshwater and to visit grave sites, but, as mentioned previously, 
fishing is prohibited in both the Cartier Island and Ashmore Marine 
Reserves, with the limited exception for fishing for immediate 
consumption within the category II area of the Ashmore Reserve. There 
is no evidence that sea snakes

[[Page 74964]]

have been targeted by Indonesian fishers (Hale and Butcher, 201; 
Lukoschek et al., 2013).
    Because sea snakes are listed under the EPBC Act, all Australian 
fisheries are required to demonstrate that direct and indirect 
interactions with sea snakes are sustainable (Zhou et al., 2012). 
Commercial trawls take over a dozen species of sea snakes (Heatwole 
1997; Wassenberg et al., 2001; Zhou et al., 2012), and in the absence 
of bycatch reduction devices (BRDs), an estimated 48.5 percent of all 
incidentally captured sea snakes will die (Wassenberg et al., 2001). 
BRDs are required in the prawn trawl fishery to minimize bycatch 
mortality and help conserve protected species. The only trawl fishery 
that operates within the range of the dusky sea snake is the North West 
Slope Trawl Fishery (NWSTF). The Australian Fisheries Management 
Authority (AFMA) reports that the NWSTF, which targets three scampi 
species (lobsters), is a low effort fishery with a very low level of 
bycatch and no documented interactions with threatened, endangered, or 
protected species (AFMA, 2012). The NWSTF is also a deep-water fishery, 
and thus unlikely to encounter the reef-associated dusky sea snake (Fry 
et al., 2001; Lukoschek et al., 2007a; Lukoschek et al., 2013). As 
discussed here and in further detail in the status review report 
(Manning, 2014), there is no indication that direct harvest or 
incidental capture poses a threat to the dusky sea snake.
    Sea snake products have been traded internationally since the 1930s 
(Marsh et al., 1994), but no sea snake species is currently listed 
under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of 
Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). Australia's Wildlife Protection Act 1982 
restricts the export of sea snake products out of Australia (Marsh et 
al., 1994). There are no data to suggest that the dusky sea snake is 
threatened by past, present, or future trade.
    Despite their apparent substantiveness, these existing and ongoing 
conservation efforts seem unlikely to prevent further decline of the 
dusky sea snake, because they have failed to prevent the decline of the 
species to date. For example, decades of protections at Ashmore Reef, 
while maintaining this as a relatively pristine reef (Hale and Butcher, 
2013), have not prevented the severe decline and likely extirpation of 
dusky sea snakes there. Furthermore, the threat posed by hybridization 
is beyond the scope of existing protections. We are thus not able to 
conclude that the existing protective efforts alter the extinction risk 
for the dusky sea snake. We are not aware of any additional, planned or 
not-yet-implemented conservation measures that would protect this 
species; thus, we did not conduct an analysis under the PECE. We seek 
additional information on other conservation efforts in our public 
comment process (see below).

Proposed Determination

    Based on our consideration of the best available data, as 
summarized here and in Manning (2014), and protective efforts being 
made to protect the species, we conclude that the dusky sea snake, A. 
fuscus, is currently at high risk of extinction throughout its range. 
We therefore propose to list it as endangered under the ESA.

Banggai Cardinalfish

    The following section describes our analysis of the status of the 
Banggai cardinalfish, Pterapogon kauderni. More details can be found in 
Conant (2014).

Species Description

    The Banggai cardinalfish is a species within the family Apogonidae 
and genus Pterapogon. It was discovered in 1920 by Walter Kaudern and 
described by Koumans (1933). The genus Pterapogon contains one other 
species, P. mirifica, from northwestern Australia (Allen and Donaldson, 
2007).
    The Banggai cardinalfish is a relatively small marine fish. Adults 
generally do not exceed 55 to 57 mm standard length (Vagelli, 2011). 
The species is distinguished from all other apogonids by its tasseled 
first dorsal fin, elongated anal and second dorsal fin rays, and deeply 
forked caudal fin (Allen, 2000). It is brilliantly colored, with 
contrasting black and light bars with whitish spots over a silvery 
body.
    The Banggai cardinalfish has an exceptionally restricted natural 
range (approximately 5,500 km\2\) within the Banggai Archipelago, 
Indonesia. Populations have been introduced in areas of Indonesia 
outside of the Banggai Archipelago, including Luwuk Harbor (Bernardi 
and Vagelli, 2004), Palu Bay (Moore and Ndobe, 2007), Lembeh Strait 
(Erdmann and Vagelli, 2001), Tumbak (Ndobe and Moore, 2005), Kendari 
Bay (Moore et al., 2011), and north Bali (Lilley, 2008). These 
introductions are a result of discards from the ornamental live reef 
aquarium trade and introductions by dive-resort operators to support 
the tourist industry (Vagelli, 2011). The introduced populations are an 
artifact of the commercial ornamental live reef trade and are not part 
of any conservation program to benefit the native populations. Because 
we interpret the ESA as conserving species and the ecosystems upon 
which these species depend, we consider the natural range to be 
biologically and ecologically important to the species' viability to 
persist in the face of threats. Distances between non-introduced 
populations range from less than 1 km (Vagelli, 2011) up to 153 km 
(Vagelli et al., 2009). Distribution of populations is discontinuous, 
with deep water, strong currents, or coast exposed to severe weather 
serving as effective ecological barriers to migration (Bernardi and 
Vagelli, 2004; Ndobe et al., 2012; Ndobe and Moore, 2013). The Banggai 
cardinalfish exhibits the highest known degree of genetic structure of 
any marine fish (Bernardi and Vagelli, 2004; Hoffman et al., 2005; 
Vagelli et al., 2009). Populations occurring on the same reef, 
separated by only a few kilometers, are genetically isolated from one 
another (Bernardi and Vagelli, 2004; Hoffman et al., 2005; Vagelli et 
al., 2009).
    The Banggai cardinalfish is generally found in calm waters of 
sheltered bays or on the leeward side of islands (Allen and Donaldson, 
2007). It inhabits a variety of shallow (from about 0.5 to 6 m) 
habitats including coral reefs, seagrass beds, and less commonly, open 
areas of low branching coral and rubble. To avoid predators, it 
associates with microhabitats such as sea urchins and anemones 
(Vagelli, 2011). Banggai cardinalfish are found in waters ranging from 
26-31 [deg]C, but averaging 28 [deg]C (Ndobe et al., 2013).
    The Banggai cardinalfish, like many apogonids, exhibits reversed 
sex roles, where males provide parental care and brood eggs in their 
mouths. It lacks a planktonic larval stage and extends the brooding of 
larvae for about 7 days after hatching, which results in the release of 
fully formed juveniles. Spawning occurs year round but peaks around 
September through October, which is a period of fewer storms in the 
region (Ndobe et al., 2013). The Banggai cardinalfish has the lowest 
fecundity reported for any apogonid (Vagelli, 2011). Generation length 
(the age at which half of total reproductive output is achieved by an 
individual) is estimated to be 1.5 years (Vagelli, New Jersey Academy 
for Aquatic Sciences (NJAAS), personal communication cited in Allen and 
Donaldson (2007)) to 2 years (Ndobe et al., 2013). Its lifespan in the 
wild has been estimated at approximately 2.5-3 years (Vagelli, 2011), 
with a maximum lifespan up to 3-5 years (Ndobe et al., 2013). Based on 
a conservative estimate, a male could incubate/brood approximately 400 
to 640 offspring over his lifespan (Vagelli, personal communication, 
2014), of which less

[[Page 74965]]

than 5 percent may survive to adulthood (Vagelli 2007 as cited in CITES 
(2007)). High mortality occurs during the first days after release from 
the brood pouch due to predation, including parental and non-parental 
cannibalism (Vagelli, 1999).
    Banggai cardinalfish form stable groups. Natural group size is 
difficult to know because group size decreases with fishing pressure, 
and most populations are not pristine. However, one bay (oyster pearl 
farm) in private ownership in the Banggai Islands had, until 2006, 
never been fished, and group size averaged about 13 fish, but varied 
from 2-33 fish per group (Lunn and Moreau, 2002). At the same site in 
2004, group size varied from 1 to over 200 fish per group (Moore, 
unpublished data, 2014). Group size is typically less than 25 
individuals, although smaller groups are common and vary by age class 
and habitat type (Vagelli, 2011).
    The first scientific surveys of Banggai cardinalfish estimated 
population abundance and density between 1.7 million, with a mean 
density of 0.03 fishes per m\2\, based on a census at three sites in 
2001 (Vagelli, 2002; Vagelli and Erdmann, 2002), and 2.4 million, with 
a mean density of 0.07 fishes per m\2\, based on an expanded census of 
34 sites conducted in 2004 (CITES, 2007). In 2007, population the 
density estimate of the expanded survey sites indicated a mean density 
of 0.08 fishes per m\2\ (Vagelli, 2008); however, overall population 
abundance was not reported for the 2007 survey. By 2011-2012, Ndobe et 
al. (in press) estimated the population abundance at 1.5-1.7 million, 
with a mean observed density of 0.05 fishes per m\2\, reportedly for 
the 24 of the 34 sites that were surveyed in 2004 and 2007. The 2011-
2012 estimates does not include locations in Toado where the habitat 
was limited and density was very high (Ndobe et al., in press); thus, 
the population abundance estimate likely is biased low. However, 7 of 
the major sites first surveyed in 2004 have declined in abundance and 
mean density (Ndobe et al., in press), indicating the population has 
likely decreased from the 2.4 million estimated in 2004. Although the 
mean observed density estimate of 0.03 fishes per m\2\ found in the 
2001 survey (Vagelli, 2002; Vagelli and Erdmann, 2002) is less than the 
2011-2012 survey, the 2001 survey was based on only three sites, while 
the 2011-2012 survey was based on 24 sites of the 34 sites. Ndobe (et 
al., in press) selected the expanded survey sites from 2004 and 2007 
for their 2011-2012 survey based on the author's previous work on 
habitat conditions and to better compare trends, over time, in density 
and abundance. Ndobe (et al., in press) stated that their 2011-2012 
estimate of 1.5-1.7 million represented 62-71 percent of the abundance 
estimate of 2.4 million from the 2004 survey. A total abundance 
estimate was not provided for the 2007 survey, however mean observed 
density decreased approximately 38 percent between 2007 (0.08 fishes 
per m\2\) and 2011-2012 (0.05 fishes per m\2\).
    Historical data on abundance are lacking, as surveys were done 
after harvest began in the early to mid-1990s. The private oyster pearl 
farm mentioned above is thought to represent a proxy for historical 
abundance by several researchers, though others disagree that the site 
is representative of historical abundance. The private oyster farm 
exists within a privately owned bay in Banggai Island, and fishing has 
been prohibited there since trade began, although illegal poaching in 
the bay was reported in 2006 (Talbot et al., 2013). The habitat in the 
bay may be similar to other sites that support the Banggai 
cardinalfish; thus, several researchers claim this population can be 
used as a proxy for a baseline of population abundance (Allen and 
Donaldson, 2007; Vagelli, 2008). In 2001, densities of fish in the 
private oyster pearl farm averaged 0.63  0.39 fishes per 
m\2\ (1 standard deviation, SD) (range: 0.28 to 1.22 fishes per m\2\) 
(Lunn and Moreau 2002) and 0.58 fishes per m\2\ in 2004 (Vagelli 2005). 
When these densities are compared to the densities found in the 2001 
and 2004 survey data discussed above, they indicate that the Banggai 
cardinalfish abundance has declined up to 90% from historical levels 
(Allen and Donaldson, 2007; Vagelli, 2008). However, several 
researchers (Moore, Sekolah Tinggi Perikanan dan Kelautan (STPL), 
personal communication 2014; Ndobe, Tadulako University, personal 
communication 2014) caution against the use of this bay as a baseline 
for population trends. Banggai cardinalfish population distribution is 
inherently patchy, and density is highly variable between and within 
sites of the Banggai Archipelago, including this bay (Moore, 
unpublished data, 2004). The researchers also question whether the 
habitat in the bay is comparable to other sites. The bay has been 
protected from degradation because it is privately owned and contains 
significant amounts of sheltered habitat and good quality microhabitat/
habitat, with limited suitable habitat for predators of the 
cardinalfish, such as groupers and other larger reef fish. We 
acknowledge the debate regarding the use of the data from the private 
oyster farm as a baseline for historical abundance. However, even 
without that data, it is clear that population abundance estimates at 
sites throughout the Banggai Archipelago declined significantly between 
2004 and 2011-2012.
    Declines and extirpations of local populations have been observed 
across years, likely due to directed harvest and, more recently, 
habitat destruction. In the 2001 survey, Bakakan Island had about 6,000 
fish, but by the 2004 census, only 17 fish remained (Vagelli, 2008). In 
the 2007 survey, 350 individuals were found at Bakakan Island, but this 
was still well below the 6,000 fish found in the 2001 survey (Vagelli, 
2008). In 2014, Moore (personal communication) reported that local 
fishers characterize the cardinalfish population on Bakakan Island as 
small and declining. Between the 2001 and 2004 surveys, the population 
density at Masoni Island doubled from 0.03 to 0.06 fish per m\2\ (an 
increase of approximately 150 fish in 3 years) (Vagelli, 2005). This 
increase is thought to have occurred in response to a collecting ban 
that the local people imposed in early 2003. However, in the 2007 
survey, the population was found to have declined to 0.008 fish per 
m\2\, with 38 fish recorded over the entire census site (the largest 
group consisted of 2 individuals). An extensive search around the 
entire island identified only 150 fish (Vagelli, 2008). A population in 
southeast Peleng Island had 159 and 207 fish in 2002 and 2004, 
respectively (Vagelli, 2005). However, by 2007, it had been practically 
extirpated, with only 27 fish found (Vagelli, 2008). Overharvest of 
microhabitat, such as Diadema sea urchins and sea anemones, and coral 
mining have resulted in local population depletions on an island off 
Liang, which was surveyed in 2004, and was extirpated by 2012 (Ndobe et 
al., 2013). Extirpation of local populations has been documented in 
areas with increased harvest of microhabitat, combined with fishing 
pressure on Banggai cardinalfish. Interviews with locals and visits to 
several sites in 2011 and 2012 indicate populations are declining in 
the Banggai Archipelago (Ndobe et al., 2013).

Summary of Factors Affecting the Banggai Cardinalfish

    Next we consider whether any one or a combination of the five 
threat factors specified in section 4(a)(1) of the ESA are contributing 
to the extinction risk of the Banggai cardinalfish. We discuss each of 
the five factors below, as all factors pose some degree of extinction 
risk. More details are available in Conant (2014).

[[Page 74966]]

Present or Threatened Destruction, Modification, or Curtailment of 
Habitat or Range

    The illegal use of fish bombs (typically made with fertilizer and 
phosphorus) and cyanide to catch fish has resulted in significant loss 
of coral reef habitat within the Banggai cardinalfish range (Allen and 
Werner, 2002). Damage to coral reefs due to fish bombs is prevalent, 
even in protected areas (Talbot et al., 2013). Cyanide is used to catch 
fish for the live reef fish trade, and the practice kills corals (e.g., 
see Jones and Steven, 1997; Mous et al., 2000). Boats have degraded the 
coral reefs in the area, and clear-cutting of wooded slopes and 
mangroves has occurred, increasing sedimentation, which degrades coral 
reef habitat (Lilley, 2008). Other upland activities, such as 
agriculture and human population growth, have increased the amount of 
waste and nitrates in the marine environment, promoting algal blooms 
(Lilley, 2008), which may destroy coral reefs by outcompeting them for 
vital resources such as light and oxygen (reviewed by Fabricius, 2005). 
Significant plastic, styrofoam, and other human-made debris occurs in 
the area (Lilley, 2008). This information indicates destruction of 
habitat is occurring within the Banggai cardinalfish's range. Although 
quantitative data on impacts to cardinalfish populations are lacking, 
considerable qualitative information exists indicating that where 
habitat has been degraded (e.g., Tanjung Nggasuang and Toropot surveyed 
in 2004 and 2012, and Mbuang-Mbuang, on Bokan Island, surveyed in 
2012), large and thriving Banggai cardinalfish populations spread over 
large areas can be reduced to isolated remnants crowded into small 
remaining patches of habitat with some protective microhabitat (Ndobe, 
personal communication, 2014).
    Coral reef conditions in the Central Sulawesi Province, including 
the Banggai Archipelago, were examined from 2001 through 2007 in seven 
Districts in the region (Moore and Ndobe, 2008). Average condition of 
the reefs was poor, and major impacts included coral mining, 
sedimentation, fishing, and predation (Moore and Ndobe, 2008). 
Population explosions of the crown-of-thorns starfish (Acanthaster 
planci), a coral predator, have been observed in the area, indicating 
an ecological imbalance, likely due to overharvest of natural predators 
and changes in hydrology and water quality (Moore et al., 2012). 
Surveys conducted at five sites around Banggai Island from 2004 through 
2011 showed coral reef cover declined by more than half, from 25 
percent to 11 percent (Moore et al., 2011; 2012). Major causes of the 
coral reef decline around Banggai Island were attributed to destructive 
fishing methods and general fishing pressure, coastal development, and 
the replacement of traditional homes with concrete and breeze-block 
dwellings, which increases the demand for mined coral and sand. Loss of 
coral reef cover may increase mortality of Banggai cardinalfish 
recruits due to cannibalism (Moore, personal communication, 2014; Ndobe 
et al., in press).
    Climate change may also impact Banggai cardinalfish habitat as a 
result of coral bleaching. Coral bleaching events due to warming 
temperatures are anticipated to increase by 2040 in areas of the Indian 
Ocean, including waters of Indonesia (van Hooidonk et al., 2013). Coral 
bleaching due to elevated water temperatures has not been observed 
around Banggai Island up through December 2011; however, extensive 
bleaching was observed in nearby Tomini Bay in 2010 (Moore et al., 
2011; 2012). The Banggai cardinalfish is restricted to shallow waters 
with ambient temperatures ranging from 28 to 31 [deg]C. Thus, warming 
temperatures may render habitat unsuitable, but specific data on 
impacts to the Banggai cardinalfish are lacking.
    Sea urchins and anemones are experiencing intensive and increasing 
harvest pressure, which negatively impacts the Banggai cardinalfish 
(Moore et al., 2012; Ndobe et al., 2012). Sea anemones were once 
abundant but were drastically reduced from Tinakin Laut, Banggai 
Island, which resulted in a collapse of the Banggai cardinalfish 
population in the area (Moore et al., 2012). Heavy harvest of sea 
anemones at Mamboro, Palu Bay, resulted in a drastic reduction of new 
recruits and juvenile Banggai cardinalfish (observed since 2006) in 
2008 (Moore et al., 2011). Moore et al. (2011; 2012) report that 
intensive harvesting of shallow water invertebrates, including sea 
anemones and sea urchins, is increasing and is linked to socio-economic 
trends associated with consumption by local seaweed farmers and use as 
feed for carnivorous fish destined for the ornamental live reef trade.
    In addition, a disease of unknown origin may be damaging hard 
corals in habitat occupied by the Banggai cardinalfish. The disease 
affects the top sections of long-branched Acropora species as well as 
species of Porites, both of which are important microhabitat for the 
Banggai cardinalfish (Vagelli, 2011). Data are lacking on the extent of 
impact the disease poses to Banggai cardinalfish habitat.

Overutilization for Commercial, Recreational, Scientific, or 
Educational Purposes

    The Banggai cardinalfish is traded internationally as a live marine 
ornamental reef fish. It has been collected in the Banggai Islands, 
Indonesia, since 1995 (Marini and Vagelli, 2007). The United States, 
Europe, and Asia are the major importers of the Banggai cardinalfish 
for the aquarium trade (CITES, 2007). The Banggai cardinalfish is the 
tenth most common ornamental fish imported into the United States 
(Rhyne et al., 2012). Banggai cardinalfish exports for the ornamental 
live reef fish trade may be decreasing, although systematic data are 
lacking. In 2001, up to 118,000 Banggai cardinalfish were sold to trade 
centers each month, with a total estimate of 700,000-1.4 million fish 
traded (Lunn and Moreau, 2002, 2004). From 2004 through 2006, around 
600,000-700,000 fish were traded yearly (Moore et al., 2011). In 2008 
and 2009, 236,373 and 330,416 fish, respectively, were traded at Bone 
Bone, Toropot, and Bone Baru trade centers (Moore et al., 2011, 2012). 
However, these numbers do not include trading data from Bone Bone in 
2008 and other active centers (e.g., Panapat for 2008 and 2009). These 
collections centers each reported about 15,000 fish per month in 2007 
(Vagelli, 2008; 2011). Vagelli (personal communication, 2014) estimates 
that 1,000,000 Banggai cardinalfish are currently captured each year 
for the ornamental live reef trade.
    The ornamental live reef fish trade has resulted in decreases in 
cardinalfish population density and extirpation of local populations. 
By 2000 (after less than a decade of trade), negative impacts on the 
Banggai cardinalfish from the trade were observed. The trade results in 
high mortality of cardinalfish collected. Based on interviews with 
collectors, Lilley (2008) estimated that only one out of every four to 
five fish collected makes it to the buyer for export due to high 
mortality and discard practices. Density and group size of cardinalfish 
and sea urchins are negatively impacted by the trade (Kolm and 
Berglund, 2003). Ndobe and Moore (2009) also found that populations 
were exploited, but observed high population density in areas where 
collection had been ongoing for some years with rotation between sites, 
indicating some harvest sustainability. Unfortunately, habitat 
destruction and collection and destruction of microhabitat (unrelated 
to the Banggai cardinalfish fishery) have

[[Page 74967]]

now greatly reduced cardinalfish populations at sites which had 
previously sustained periodic collection for more than a decade (Moore, 
personal communication, 2014). Decreases in population density are also 
evidenced by significant declines in the catch per unit effort 
(Vagelli, personal communication, 2014). In Bone Baru, from 1993-2000, 
fishers were catching an average of 1,000-10,000 fish per day, but by 
2003 they only averaged 100-1,000 per day, with most catching between 
200-300 fish (EC-Prep Project, 2005). Prior to 2003, collectors from 
Bone Baru typically required one day to capture approximately 2,000 
specimens. In 2007, they reported requiring one week to capture the 
same number (Vagelli, 2011). Vagelli (2011) reports similar declines 
for Banggai Island, where between 2000 and 2004, the reported mean 
catch declined from about 1,000 fish/hour to 25-330 fish/hour.
    Information suggests the number of active participants in the trade 
may have dropped. In 2001, there were 12 villages that collected the 
Banggai cardinalfish, but only 3 were active in 2011 (Moore et al., 
2011, 2012), and at least 5 villages were active in 2014 (Moore, 
personal communication, 2014). Reported as number of collectors, the 
data indicate a decline in participation as well, from about 130 in 
2001 (Lunn and Moreau, 2004) to about 80 in 2007 (Vagelli, 2011) and 
2012 (Vagelli, personal communication, 2014).
    In 2012, a large-scale aquaculture facility based in Thailand began 
to breed Banggai cardinalfish in captivity for export, which may 
alleviate some of the pressure to collect fish from wild populations 
(Talbot et al., 2013; Rhyne, Roger Williams University, unpublished 
data 2014). In 2013, approximately 120,000 Banggai cardinalfish were 
imported into the United States from the Thailand facility. The volume 
represents a significant portion of overall United States imports of 
the cardinalfish and may even exceed the number of wild fish currently 
imported (Rhyne, unpublished data, 2014). Efforts to captive-breed the 
species in the United States are also ongoing, which may alleviate 
dependence on wild-caught cardinalfish. In the United States, the 
Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services has certified 
eight aquaculture facilities that are beginning to culture and market 
farm-raised Banggai cardinalfish (Knickerbocker, Florida Department of 
Agriculture and Consumer Services, personal communication 2014). In-
situ breeding by the fishing communities in the endemic area may also 
alleviate pressure on the natural population, but the concept requires 
further research before it can be implemented at a local community 
level (Ndobe, personal communication, 2014).

Disease or Predation

    Predation and cannibalism are high among new recruits (Moore et 
al., 2012). However, specific data are lacking on whether predation 
pressure is increasing or impacting the Banggai cardinalfish population 
growth beyond natural levels.
    A virus known as the Banggai cardinalfish iridovirus (genus 
Megalocytivirus) is linked to high mortality of wild-caught fish 
imported for the ornamental live reef fish trade (Vagelli, 2008; Weber 
et al., 2009). The virus causes necrosis of spleen and renal tissue, 
which appears as darkened tissue. Other symptoms are lethargy and lack 
of appetite. Surveys of wild populations have not reported symptoms of 
the disease. Necropsies of over 100 fish collected in the wild and at 
holding facilities showed no indication of the virus (Talbot et al., 
2013). Thus, the virus is likely transmitted from other specimens at 
containment centers, or is carried by the Banggai cardinalfish and is 
only expressed as a result of stress incurred during the long transport 
process (Weber et al., 2009; Talbot et al., 2013) and may not be a 
concern for wild fish.

Inadequacy of Existing Regulatory Mechanisms

    Current Indonesian legislation requires that all trade in Banggai 
cardinalfish go through quarantine procedures before crossing internal 
administrative borders or prior to export (Moore et al., 2011). 
Compliance historically has been low, but is improving (Moore, personal 
communication, 2014; Moore et al., 2011). However, reported collection 
through the Fish Quarantine Data system, which records fish that go 
through quarantine procedures, was well below the total reported 
collection from Bone Baru, Toropot, and Bone Bone for 2008 and 2009. 
Bone Baru, Toropot, and Bone Bone reported collection of 236,373 fish 
in 2008 and 330,416 fish in 2009. Whereas in 2008 and 2009, the Fish 
Quarantine Data reported collection of 83,200 and 215,950 fish, 
respectively (Moore et al., 2011). Enforcement of the Fish Quarantine 
procedures is weak, and illegal, unregulated, and unreported capture 
and trade are still a major problem, especially in remote areas (Ndobe, 
personal communication, 2014).
    Legislation is needed to establish fishing quotas and size limits; 
however, no legally binding regulations have been passed or implemented 
(Moore et al., 2011). Indonesia prohibits the use of chemicals or 
explosives to catch fish (Fisheries Law No. 31/2004, Article 8(1)). 
However, the practice continues (Vagelli, 2011), and damage to coral 
reefs due to fish bombs is prevalent, even in protected areas (Talbot 
et al., 2013).
    In 2011, Indonesia had proposed to list the Banggai cardinalfish 
for restricted protected status under domestic law. But the proposal 
stalled when the Indonesian Institute for Science argued that the 
introduced populations meant the species was no longer endemic, and 
thus did not meet the criteria for protected status (Moore, personal 
communication, 2014; Ndobe, personal communication, 2014). In 2007, the 
Banggai cardinalfish was proposed for listing under CITES Appendix II. 
However, the proposal failed. The species is listed in Annex D of the 
European Wildlife Trade Regulations, which only requires monitoring of 
European Union import levels through import notifications.
    Based on the weaknesses discussed above, regulatory mechanisms on 
the commercial harvest industry do not appear adequate to ensure the 
population will be sustainable.

Other Natural or Manmade Factors Affecting Continued Existence

    Global averaged combined land and ocean surface temperatures show a 
warming of 0.85 [deg]C over the period 1880 to 2012 (IPCC, 2013). As 
discussed earlier (see Present or Threatened Destruction, Modification, 
or Curtailment of Habitat or Range), warming temperatures may destroy 
or modify habitat, but data are lacking on specific direct impacts to 
the Banggai cardinalfish.
    The Banggai Archipelago sits at the junction of three tectonic 
plates (Eurasian, Indian-Australian, and Pacific-Philippine Sea) and is 
vulnerable to earthquakes. An earthquake measuring 7.6 on the Richter 
scale occurred in 2000 and destroyed coral reefs in the region 
(Vagelli, 2011). Frequent earthquakes within the Banggai Archipelago 
may have impacted localized Banggai cardinalfish populations (CITES, 
2007), but specific data are lacking.

Extinction Risk

    The life history characteristics (i.e., low fecundity, high degree 
of parental care and energetic investment in offspring, high new 
recruit mortality, no

[[Page 74968]]

planktonic dispersal, high site fidelity) of the Banggai cardinalfish 
render it less resilient and more vulnerable to stochastic events than 
marine species that are able to disperse over large areas and 
recolonize sites that have been lost due to these events. Because the 
Banggai cardinalfish also has an exceptionally restricted natural range 
(approximately 5,500 km\2\), these demographic traits become more 
important in terms of the extent to which the threats appreciably 
reduce the fitness of the species. The Banggai cardinalfish lacks 
dispersal ability and exhibits high site fidelity, and new recruits 
stay within parental habitat. Thus, recolonization is unlikely once a 
local population is extirpated. Local populations off Liang and Peleng 
Island are reported extirpated, and interviews with local fishermen 
indicate extirpation of small local populations throughout the Banggai 
Archipelago. The Banggai cardinalfish also exhibits high genetic 
population substructuring; thus, extirpation of local populations from 
overharvest and/or loss of habitat can result in loss of genetic 
diversity and further fragmentation of spatial distribution. In 
considering the demographic risks to the species, its growth rate/
productivity, spatial structure/connectivity, and diversity are 
assigned to the high risk of extinction category. However, the overall 
population abundance (estimated at 1.5 to 1.7 million) is assigned to 
the moderate risk of extinction category, because the abundance may 
allow some resilience against stochastic events.
    In considering the threats, we rely on the best available data to 
assess how the threats are currently impacting or likely to impact the 
species in the foreseeable future. The best available data indicate 
that several threats to the Banggai cardinalfish will continue and 
increase, with the species responding negatively, but other threats 
will decrease, with the species responding favorably. Habitat 
degradation has occurred and is anticipated to continue and increase in 
the foreseeable future. Although Indonesia prohibits the use of 
chemicals or explosives to catch fish, historically, compliance has 
been low, and data indicate compliance is not improving. Data also 
indicate that by 2007, harvest of microhabitat (sea urchins and sea 
anemones) had negatively impacted cardinalfish populations, and the 
harvest had increased by 2011. Moore et al. (2011, 2012) concluded that 
it would be difficult to establish and enforce local regulations for 
controlling the overharvest of microhabitat. Thus, it is reasonable to 
expect that microhabitat harvest will continue and increase in the 
foreseeable future, which negatively impacts the Banggai cardinalfish 
and its ability to avoid predators. Overutilization from direct harvest 
for the ornamental live reef fish trade has significantly impacted the 
Banggai cardinalfish and remains a concern. Trade continues resulting 
in high mortality, and in areas of heavy overexploitation, populations 
have been extirpated. However, an increase in compliance with the Fish 
Quarantine regulations and improved trade practices have occurred in 
recent years, and we anticipate compliance and trade practices will 
likely continue to improve in the future, which may mitigate impacts 
through sustainable trade. Participation in collection of Banggai 
cardinalfish for the live ornamental reef trade has dropped in recent 
years. Captive-bred facilities have recently started in the United 
States and Thailand and are anticipated to decrease the threat of 
directed harvest of the wild populations in the future. Predation of 
new recruits is high. Mortality from disease in wild-caught fish 
imported for the ornamental live reef fish trade and disease affecting 
the Banggai cardinalfish habitat are both plausible threats. However, 
data are lacking on how these threats impact the population and what, 
if any, impacts will occur and at what rate in the future. Climate 
change within the Banggai cardinalfish range will continue to affect 
coral reefs in the future, and it is reasonable to expect that future 
earthquakes that may destroy or modify habitat within the species' 
range will occur at the current rate.
    The Banggai cardinalfish is exposed, and negatively responds to 
some degree, to the five threat factors discussed above. Although 
quantitative analyses are lacking, it is reasonable to expect that when 
these exposures are combined, synergistic effects may occur. For 
example, the ornamental live reef fish trade likely causes the 
expression of the iridovirus in the Banggai cardinalfish, which results 
in increased mortality. The indiscriminate harvest of sea anemones and 
sea urchins and destruction of coral reefs eliminates important 
cardinalfish shelter and substrate and increases the likelihood of 
predation. Interactions among these threats may lead to a higher 
extinction risk than predicted based on any individual threat.
    In sum, based on the life history characteristics of the Banggai 
cardinalfish, which indicate high vulnerability to demographic risks 
(due to trends in population growth/productivity, spatial structure and 
connectivity, and diversity), coupled with ongoing and projected 
threats to habitat and microhabitat, commercial use, inadequate 
regulatory mechanisms, disease and predation, and additional natural or 
manmade factors, we conclude that demographic risks and the combination 
of threats to the species may contribute to the overall vulnerability 
and resiliency of the Banggai cardinalfish. The Banggai cardinalfish 
has experienced a decline in abundance as evidenced by the decrease in 
mean density at survey sites between 2004 and 2012. Moreover, at least 
some researchers believe that the population may have experienced a 
dramatic decline from historical abundance due to overharvest based on 
comparisons between populations in a private bay and other populations. 
Most of the species' demographic characteristics put it at a high risk 
of extinction. However, the threat of overharvest has been and will 
likely continue to be reduced in the future. Further, the overall 
population abundance (1.5 to 1.7 million) may allow some resilience 
against stochastic events; thus, placing the Banggai cardinalfish at an 
overall moderate risk of extinction.

Protective Efforts

    The Banggai cardinalfish is listed as `endangered' by the World 
Conservation Union (IUCN; Allen and Donaldson, 2007). Although listing 
under the IUCN provides no direct conservation benefit, it raises 
awareness of the species. In addition, the Banggai cardinalfish was one 
of the first entrants into the Frozen Ark Project, which is a program 
to save the genetic material of imperiled species (Williams, 2004; 
Clarke, 2009).
    In 2007, Indonesia developed a national multi-stakeholder Banggai 
cardinalfish action plan (BCF-AP), which focused on conservation, 
trade, and management issues (Ndobe and Moore, 2009). As part of the 
BCF-AP, annual stakeholder meetings are held to share data, review 
progress, and set goals (Moore et al., 2011). The BCF-AP called for 
biophysical and socio-economic monitoring of trade, population status, 
and habitat, and several organizations have begun to report on these 
activities. However, there is no integrated or comprehensive monitoring 
system, and long-term data sets are lacking (Moore et al., 2011). 
Several aspects of the BCF-AP appear to have improved the 
sustainability of the Banggai cardinalfish trade. Fishermen groups have 
gained legal status (allowing them access to various benefits such as 
funding or loan support), which has led to socialization of sustainable 
harvest in Bone Baru. The

[[Page 74969]]

legally-established fishermen's group Kelompok BCFLestari, in Bone 
Baru, implemented collection practices designed to prevent capture of 
brooding males (Moore et al., 2011). Workshops have been held on 
improving capture methods and post-harvest care, and several community 
members have become active in conservation efforts. However, the BCF-AP 
officially ended in 2012 and so did the funding. Some of the 
stakeholders are still active and are likely to continue to be so, 
despite lack of government support (Moore, personal communication, 
2014).
    As discussed earlier, compliance with the Fish Quarantine 
regulations has increased, which is largely due to the development and 
implementation of the BCF-AP (Moore et al., 2011). In 2004, one Banggai 
cardinalfish trader followed Fish Quarantine procedures. By 2008, there 
was a marked increase in legal trade, but unreported fishing still 
occurs (Moore et al., 2011). With the lapse of the BCF-AP, legislation 
is needed to support and restart the goals described in the BCF-AP, and 
although efforts have been ongoing to establish fishing quotas and size 
limits, no legally binding regulations have been passed or implemented 
(Moore et al., 2011).
    In 2007, the Banggai Cardinal Fish Centre (BCFC) was established in 
the Banggai Laut District to serve as a central point for sharing 
information and managing the species over a wider community area 
(Lilley, 2008; Moore et al., 2011). As of 2011, the BCFC had no 
electricity, no operational budget, and was operated on a voluntary 
basis (Moore et al., 2011). Further inhibiting the continued operation 
of the BCFC is that in 2013, the region was split into two Districts by 
constitutional law (UU No. 5/2013). The BCFC will need to be officially 
approved under the new District to maintain its legal status (Ndobe, 
personal communication, 2014).
    A marine protected area (MPA) consisting of 10 islands was declared 
by Indonesia in 2007, with conservation of the Banggai cardinalfish as 
the primary goal of the Banggai and Togong Lantang Islands (Ndobe et 
al., 2012). However, Banggai cardinalfish populations are not found at 
Togong Lantang Island, while for three other islands within the 
proposed MPA with known populations, Banggai cardinalfish conservation 
is not included as a conservation goal in the designation (Ndobe et 
al., 2012). In addition, based on genetic analysis, only 2 of 17 known 
populations occur within the MPA, which led Ndobe et al. (2012) to 
conclude the MPA design was ill-suited for conserving the Banggai 
cardinalfish. It is uncertain whether the MPA will be changed in the 
foreseeable future to better suit the species.
    Although no longer active, the Marine Aquarium Council (MAC), an 
international non-governmental organization, developed a certification 
system to improve the management of the marine aquarium trade. MAC 
developed best practices for collectors and exporters, including those 
in Indonesia. Best practices include improvement of product quality, 
reduction in mortality rates, safer practices for collectors, and 
fairer prices paid to collectors. By applying the MAC standards, 
traders could be certified as meeting these international standards 
(Lilley, 2008). Building on the MAC efforts, the Yayasan Alam Indonesia 
Lestari (LINI) has worked in the Banggai Islands to promote a 
sustainable fishery for the Banggai cardinalfish and to protect habitat 
(Talbot et al., 2013). LINI focuses on surveys, capacity building, and 
training of local suppliers and reef restoration (Lilley, 2008). LINI's 
training and education efforts may raise awareness of needed 
conservation efforts to benefit the Banggai cardinalfish. For example, 
more benign collection methods have been implemented at Bone Baru, the 
species has been adopted as a mascot, and local citizens craft and 
market items related to the fish. LINI is also trying to set up a 
mechanism for hobbyists to buy only from distributors who use best 
practices and are sustainable (Talbot et al., 2013). However, continued 
funding for the program is a concern (Moore, personal communication, 
2014).
    In addition to the protective efforts described above, Indonesia 
has committed to develop a comprehensive management plan for the 
Banggai cardinalfish under the auspices of Indonesia's national plan of 
action under the Coral Triangle Initiative on Coral Reefs, Fisheries, 
and Food Security (CTI-CFF). The CTI-CFF specifies a goal to use an 
ecosystems-based approach to managing fisheries (EAFM), including a 
more sustainable trade in live reef fishes. In 2013, World Wide Fund 
for Nature (WWF), in partnership with STPL, implemented a pilot project 
in Central Sulawesi Province under the ecosystems-based approach and 
chose the Banggai cardinalfish as one of five fisheries case studies in 
Banggai Laut District. The goal is to draft local regulations for an 
EAFM for two Districts--Banggai Laut District (which encompasses the 
majority of the endemic Banggai cardinalfish populations) and Banggai 
Kepulauan District (which includes the Peleng Island Banggai 
cardinalfish populations). The STPL EAFM Learning Centre team will be 
implementing this component through January 2015. These efforts are 
likely to introduce local measures to sustain the Banggai cardinalfish 
trade (Moore, personal communication, 2014; Ndobe, personal 
communication, 2014).
    Under the PECE, conservation efforts not yet implemented or not yet 
shown to be effective must have certainty of implementation and 
effectiveness before being considered as factors decreasing extinction 
risk. The effort described above does not satisfy the PECE criteria of 
having a certainty of implementation and effectiveness. Although a 
pilot project in Central Sulawesi Province under the ecosystems-based 
approach is underway with the Banggai cardinalfish as one of five 
fisheries case studies, we lack information on how this effort will 
yield measures that will be funded, regulated, or regularly practiced 
to sustain the Banggai cardinalfish trade in the future; thus, this 
effort cannot be considered to alter the risk of extinction of the 
Banggai cardinalfish. We seek additional information on other 
conservation efforts in our public comment process (see below).

Proposed Determination

    Based on the best available scientific and commercial information 
discussed above, we find that the Banggai cardinalfish is at a moderate 
risk of extinction, but the nature of the threats and demographic risks 
identified do not suggest the species is presently in danger of 
extinction, and therefore, it does not meet the definition of an 
endangered species. We do find, however, that both the species' risk of 
extinction and the best available information on the extent of and 
trends in the major threats affecting this species (habitat destruction 
and overutilization) make it likely this species will become an 
endangered species within the foreseeable future throughout its range. 
We therefore propose to list it as threatened under the ESA.

Harrisson's Dogfish

    The following section describes our analysis of the status of the 
gulper shark, Harrisson's dogfish (Centrophorus harrissoni). More 
details can be found in Miller (2014).

Species Description

    Centrophorus harrissoni, or Harrisson's dogfish, is a shark 
belonging to the family Centrophoridae (order Squaliformes). The 
Centrophoridae contain two genera: Deania (long-snouted or bird-beak 
dogfishes) and

[[Page 74970]]

Centrophorus, usually referred to as gulper sharks. ``Gulper shark'' is 
also the common name for the largest species, C. granulosus (White et 
al., 2013).
    Harrisson's dogfish is endemic to subtropical and temperate waters 
off eastern Australia and neighboring seamounts. Specimens identified 
as C. harrissoni have also been collected along the Three Kings, 
Kermadec, and Norfolk Ridges north of New Zealand, and it has also 
possibly been identified off New Caledonia (Duffy, 2007). It is a 
demersal species, primarily found along the upper- to mid-continental 
and insular slopes off eastern Australia, from north of Evans Head in 
northern New South Wales (NSW) to Cape Hauy on the island of Tasmania, 
and on the Tasmantid Seamount Chain off NSW and southern Queensland 
(hereafter referred to as its ``core range''). It occurs in depths of 
180 to 1000 m, with a principal depth range of 200 to 900 m (White et 
al., 2008; Last and Stevens, 2009; Williams et al., 2013a). However, 
specimens have been collected in deeper waters from the seamounts and 
ridges north of New Zealand and off southeastern Australia and in 
shallower depths off eastern Bass Strait (Daley et al., 2002; Graham 
and Daley, 2011; Williams et al., 2013a). Gulper sharks, including 
Harrisson's dogfish, are thought to conduct diel vertical feeding 
migrations, whereby the sharks ascend the continental slope near dusk 
to around 200 m depths to feed and then descend before dawn (Williams 
et al., 2013a), which helps to explain the large depth distribution for 
the species. Small bathypelagic bony fishes (particularly myctophids, 
lantern fishes), cephalopods, and crustaceans have been found in the 
stomachs of C. harrissoni (Daley et al., 2002).
    Research studies indicate that C. harrissoni may also exhibit 
spatial sexual segregation (Graham and Daley, 2011), based on the 
evidence that males tend to dominate the sex ratios on survey grounds 
and assumption that females must be more abundant elsewhere to 
compensate for the uneven sex ratios. Specifically, sex ratios varied 
from 1.5:1 to 4.9:1 along the east coast of Australia, illustrating the 
predominance of males (Graham and Daley, 2011). Two notable sites, 
however, did show females outnumbering males and were located off 
northern NSW, from Newcastle to Danger Point, and off Taupo Seamount 
(Graham and Daley, 2011), providing some support for spatial sexual 
segregation. Interestingly, Graham and Daley (2011) found no evidence 
of sexual or age segregation by depth, with males dominating throughout 
all depth zones sampled (with the exception of the two sites noted 
above) and juveniles evenly interspersed with adults across all depths.
    In terms of mating and reproductive behavior, which could provide 
some insight into potential spatial structuring, very little 
information is available. It is known that Harrisson's dogfish is 
viviparous (i.e., gives birth to live young), with a yolk-sac placenta. 
Females have litters of one or (more commonly) two pups, with size at 
birth around 35-40 cm TL (Graham and Daley, 2011). Although the 
gestation period is unknown, a 2 to 3 year period has been estimated 
for other Centrophorus species, with continuous breeding from maturity 
to maximum age (Kyne and Simpfendorfer, 2007; Graham and Daley, 2011). 
Female C. harrissoni mature at sizes around 98 cm TL and reach maximum 
sizes of 112-114 cm TL, while males mature around 75-85 cm TL and reach 
maximum sizes of 95-99 cm TL (Graham and Daley, 2011). Female age at 
maturity is estimated between 23 and 36 years of age (Daley et al., 
2002; Wilson et al., 2009; Last and Stevens, 2009; Graham and Daley, 
2011). Longevity is estimated at over 46 years of age (Wilson et al., 
2009). Current breeding sites for Harrisson's dogfish are thought to 
include waters off eastern Australia, from Port Stephens to 31 Canyon, 
areas off North Flinders and Cape Barren in southeastern Australia, and 
waters around Taupo Seamount (Williams et al., 2012). These are areas 
where mature males, mature females, and juveniles have been recorded, 
and thus are likely to be areas that support viable populations where 
mating and pupping occur (Williams et al., 2012). However, more 
extensive sampling, as well critical information regarding the aspects 
of the Harrisson's dogfish breeding cycle (including necessary sex 
ratios for successful reproduction, preferred mating and breeding 
grounds, and mating and breeding behaviors), is needed to identify and 
fully comprehend the spatial dynamics of Harrisson's dogfish.
    For management purposes, Harrisson's dogfish in Australia have been 
separated into two stocks that are considered to be ``distinct'' 
populations: A ``continental slope'' stock that occurs continuously 
along the Australian eastern continental margin, and a ``seamount 
stock'' that occurs on the Tasmantid Seamount Chain off NSW and 
southern Queensland, including the Fraser, Recorder, Queensland, 
Britannia, Derwent Hunter, Barcoo, and Taupo Seamounts. However, to 
date, no genetic studies have been conducted to confirm that these two 
populations are genetically distinct, and tagging studies are limited, 
with insufficient recapture rates to make any determination regarding 
the connectivity of the populations. In addition, there are a number of 
other uncertainties associated with the assumption of two separate 
Harrisson's dogfish stocks, including necessary sex ratios and other 
successful reproduction requirements, which are further discussed in 
Miller (2014). Due to these uncertainties, we do not find conclusive 
evidence of separate populations of Harrisson's dogfish. Therefore, we 
consider the available information for these two stocks, including 
estimates of depletion rates and protection benefits of management 
measures, together when we determine the status of the entire species 
throughout its range.
    Because species-specific historical and current abundance estimates 
are not available, Williams et al. (2013a) used a variety of methods 
and analyses to estimate the pre-fishery (pre-1980s) and current 
abundance (in biomass units) at fishery stock and sub-regional scales 
(detailed information on the data sources and methods can be found in 
Williams et al. (2013a)). Results from the various analyses revealed 
that Harrisson's dogfish is currently estimated to be at 21 percent of 
its pre-fishery population size throughout its core range (with a lower 
estimate of 11 percent and upper estimate of 31 percent). The authors 
note that this overall estimate of decline is strongly influenced by 
the small declines estimated on seamounts (Williams et al. 2013a). The 
continental margin population is estimated to be at 11 percent of its 
pre-fishery population size (range of 4 to 20 percent; with the 
estimate influenced by uncertainty surrounding the level of cumulative 
fishing effort off the northern NSW slope). The seamount population is 
estimated to be at 75 percent of its pre-fishery population size (range 
50 percent to 100 percent).

Summary of Factors Affecting Harrisson's Dogfish

    Available information regarding current, historical, and potential 
threats to Harrisson's dogfish were thoroughly reviewed (Miller, 2014). 
We find that the main threat to the species is overutilization for 
commercial purposes, with the species' natural biological vulnerability 
to overexploitation exacerbating the severity of the threat, and hence 
also identified as a secondary threat contributing to the species' risk 
of extinction. We summarize information regarding these threats and 
their

[[Page 74971]]

interactions below, according to the factors specified in section 
4(a)(1) of the ESA. Available information does not indicate that 
habitat destruction, modification, or curtailment, disease, or 
predation are operative threats on this species; therefore, we do not 
discuss those further here. Because new regulatory measures were just 
recently implemented, the adequacy and effectiveness of existing 
regulatory measures is discussed in the ``Protective Efforts'' section 
below. See Miller (2014) for full discussion of all threat categories.

Overutilization for Commercial, Recreational, Scientific, or 
Educational Purposes

    Historically, Harrisson's dogfish and other gulper sharks were 
taken in both Australian Commonwealth-managed commercial trawl 
fisheries (those that are managed by the Australian Federal Government, 
in coordination with Australian State fisheries agencies, through the 
Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA) (Kyne and 
Simpfendorfer, 2007)) and State-managed commercial trawl fisheries 
operating on the upper slope off eastern Australia, within the core 
range of Harrisson's dogfish. Unfortunately, little information is 
available on the specific catch of these deep-water sharks, primarily 
due to the historical inaccuracy of data reporting and species 
identification issues. These Commonwealth and State-managed commercial 
trawl fisheries developed off NSW in the 1970s and off Victoria and 
Tasmania in the 1980s. By the early 1980s, more than 100 trawlers were 
operating off NSW, with around 60 percent regularly fishing on the 
upper slope. In fact, between 1977 and 1988, catches from these upper-
slope trawl operations comprised more than half of the total trawl 
landings in NSW (Graham et al., 2001). Large numbers of C. harrissoni 
were likely caught and discarded off NSW during this time, due to the 
absence of a market for deepwater shark carcasses (a result of mercury 
content regulations and preference for more marketable bony fishes) 
(Daley et al., 2002; Graham and Daley, 2011). Similarly, trawlers 
operating on the upper-slope off eastern Victoria reported minimal 
catches of Centrophorus dogfishes, but also likely discarded 
substantial numbers due to Victorian State restrictions on mercury 
content in shark flesh (Daley et al., 2002). Graham and Daley (2011) 
estimate that landings of Centorphorus spp. were around several hundred 
tonnes per year during the 1980s and early 1990s.
    Daley et al. (2002) note that in the early 1990s significant 
quantities of Centrophorus spp. were also caught off eastern Victoria 
by fishermen using droplines targeting blue-eye trevalla (Centrolophus 
antarctica) and ling (Genypterus blacodes). In addition, some Southern 
and Eastern Scalefish and Shark Fishery (SESSF) operators off Victoria 
used deep-set gillnets to target Centrophorus species for their livers 
in the 1990s (Daley et al., 2002). Squalene oil, which is extracted 
from the liver of deep-sea sharks, is used in a number of cosmetics and 
health products, and the livers of Centrophorus species have the 
highest squalene oil content (67-89 percent) of any deep-sea shark. 
Fishermen would keep the livers of the Centrophorus spp. and discard 
the carcasses due to their mercury content. However, by the time the 
mercury restrictions were eased in 1995 (allowing for carcasses to also 
be sold), very few Centrophorus species were being caught off eastern 
Victoria, with targeting of these sharks having essentially ceased 
(Daley et al., 2002). Since 2002, total catch of gulper sharks by 
Commonwealth licensed vessels has been less than 15 t per year 
(Woodhams et al., 2013).
    In 2001, Graham et al. (2001) quantified the effects of the 
historical trawling on the abundance of gulper sharks off NSW using 
data from fishery-independent surveys conducted along the upper slope 
before and after the expansion of the commercial trawl-fishery (Andrews 
et al., 1997). The initial pre-fishery survey was carried out during 
1976 and 1977. There were three trawling survey grounds: (1) Sydney-
Newcastle, (2) Ulladulla-Batemans Bay, and (3) Eden-Gabo Island and 
eight depth zones (covering depths of 200-650 m). The two northern 
grounds (Sydney and Ulladulla) were surveyed twice in 1976 and twice in 
1977; the southern (Eden) ground was surveyed three times in 1977. 
These surveys were repeated in 1996-1997, (with two surveys conducted 
off Sydney and Ulladulla and three off Eden) using the same vessel and 
trawl gear and similar sampling protocols, to examine the changes in 
relative abundances of the main species (number and kg per trawling 
hour) after 20 years of trawling (see Andrew et al., 1997; Graham et 
al., 2001). Results from these surveys show that Harrisson's dogfish 
were present and, at one time, were caught across all of the survey 
grounds and depth zones. In 1976, catches of Harrisson's dogfish were 
combined with southern dogfish (C. zeehaani) in the initial two surveys 
off Sydney and one off Ulladulla. When these species were separated in 
the later 1976 surveys, and in 1977, southern dogfish comprised around 
75 percent and Harrisson's dogfish comprised 25 percent of the combined 
catch. In 1976-77, Harrisson's and southern dogfishes combined 
represented around 9 percent, 18 percent, and 32 percent of the total 
fish catches off Sydney, Ulladulla, and Eden, respectively. The overall 
mean catch rate (for all grounds and depths) was 126 kg/hour. This is 
in stark contrast to the 0.4 kg/h catch rate in 1996-1997, when only 14 
southern and 8 Harrisson's dogfishes were caught, comprising 0.18 
percent of the total fish catch weight (Graham et al., 2001). For the 
1976-77 surveys where the two species were separated, the mean catch 
rate of Harrisson's dogfish was 28.8 kg/hr caught over the course of 
173 tows. In 1996-97, the mean catch rate of Harrisson's dogfish was 
0.1 kg/hr over the course of 165 tows (Graham et al., 1997; 2001). 
These decreases in survey catch rates provide compelling evidence of 
declines of over 99.7 percent in relative abundance of C. harrissoni on 
the upper-slope of NSW, a core part of their range, after 20 years of 
trawling activity (Graham et al., 2001).
    In Australia, the commercial trawl fisheries are still active, as 
are demersal line fisheries, which also incidentally catch Harrisson's 
dogfish. In terms of Commonwealth-managed fisheries, Harrisson's 
dogfish are primarily caught as bycatch by the SESSF, which operates 
over an extensive area of the Australian Fishing Zone (AFZ) around 
eastern, southern, and southwestern Australia. The distribution of 
recent (2006-2010) commercial fishing effort in the SESSF shows that 
there is still substantial fishing effort on Commonwealth upper-slope 
grounds using demersal gears, specifically trawl and auto-longline 
operations (see Miller (2014) for more details). According to Graham 
(2013), around 30 trawlers and 3 auto-longliners in the SESSF still 
operate along the upper-slopes. Since auto-longline vessels, which 
deploy up to 15,000 hooks per vessel per day, can operate on the steep 
and rough ground that would potentially be a refuge for C. harrissoni 
from trawling (R. Daley, Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial 
Research Organization (CSIRO), personal communication, 2014), the 
combined operation of both the trawl and auto-longline fisheries within 
the range of Harrisson's dogfish significantly increases the likelihood 
of incidental catch of the species. Catch rates of Harrisson's dogfish 
in the SESSF have been minimal in recent years, likely due to their low 
abundance

[[Page 74972]]

on the continental margin; however, the combined operation of these 
demersal gears on the upper-slope grounds may further decrease 
abundance of the remaining population. For the 2012-2013 season, 
reported gulper shark (C. harrissoni, C. moluccensis, C. zeehaani) 
landings (in trunk weight) were 0.9 t with discards of 1.2 t (Woodhams 
et al., 2013). This is a decrease from the previous year, which 
reported landings of 3.8 t. Given the evidence of substantial depletion 
of both Harrisson's and southern dogfishes in Australian waters over 
the years, high risk of overfishing in the SESSF, with no current 
indication of recovery (based on 2012-2013 season data), the Australian 
Government Department of Agriculture classified the above three gulper 
sharks as ``overfished'' in 2012, with the current level of fishing 
mortality noted as ``uncertain'' (Woodhams et al., 2013). In fact, 
upper-slope gulper sharks have been classified as overfished since they 
were first included in Australia's Fishery Status Reports in 2005 
(Woodhams et al., 2011). In February 2013, a zero retention limit was 
implemented for Harrisson's dogfish (Woodhams et al., 2013), along with 
other management measures detailed in AFMA's Upper-Slope Dogfish 
Management Strategy (AFMA, 2012) and evaluated in the ``Protective 
Efforts'' section below.
    In terms of state-managed fisheries, the range of Harrisson's 
dogfish extends within NSW, Victoria, and Tasmania jurisdictions. In 
both Victorian and Tasmanian fisheries, catch records of Harrisson's 
dogfish are rare and interactions with these fisheries are considered 
to be unlikely, based on their respective fishing operations 
(Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC), 2013). In NSW 
commercial fisheries, Harrisson's dogfish may be caught by the Ocean 
Trap and Line Fishery and the Ocean Trawl Fishery. According to Graham 
(2013), there are up to five trawlers in the Ocean Trawl Fishery that 
fish seasonally between Newcastle and Sydney and may incidentally catch 
Harrisson's dogfish, and only minimal line fishing effort on the upper-
slope (K. Graham, Australian Museum, personal communication, 2014). In 
2013, a zero retention limit was implemented for Harrisson's dogfish 
(unless for scientific purposes as agreed by Fisheries NSW) (NSW DPI, 
2013).
    Because of their low productivity, sustainable harvest rates of 
gulper sharks are estimated to be less than five percent of their 
virgin biomass, and maybe even as low as one percent (reflecting the 
proportion of total population that can be caught and still maintain 
sustainability of the population; Forrest and Walters, 2009). However, 
these harvest levels can only be sustained by a population in a 
significantly less depleted state (Woodhams et al., 2011). In the case 
of Harrison's dogfish, Woodhams et al. (2013) notes that even low 
levels of mortality can pose a risk because of its significantly 
depleted state. Although total fishing mortality on gulper sharks is 
unknown, the level of catch and observed discards in recent years was 
deemed likely to result in further population declines (Woodhams et al. 
2011; 2012; 2013). In the 2012-13 fishing season, discards actually 
outnumbered landings (1.2 t compared to 0.9 t; Woodhams et al., 2013). 
Thus, even with the prohibition on retention of the species, there is 
still a potential for discards based on the significant overlap of 
current fishing effort within the core range of the species (Woodhams 
et al., 2013). This is a concern because Harrisson's dogfish suffers 
from high at-vessel mortality in trawl gear and potentially high at-
vessel mortality in auto-longline gear (Williams et al., 2013a). 
Therefore, the continued fishing effort on the upper-slope and 
potential for incidental capture of Harrisson's dogfish in the trawl 
and line fisheries described above, which will likely result in 
mortality of the species, is considered a threat that is currently 
contributing to the overutilization of the species and its risk of 
extinction.
    In the areas off New Zealand where C. harrissoni have been observed 
(Three Kings Ridge, Norfolk Ridge, and Kermadec Ridge), there is 
limited fishing effort (Graham, 2013). The fishing activities include 
trawling on the West Norfolk Ridge, drop-lining for large bony fishes 
on the Three Kings Rise, West Norfolk Ridge, and Wanganella Bank, and 
minimal longlining and close to no trawling on the Kermadec Ridge. No 
bycatch of gulper sharks has been reported from these fishing 
activities (based on a personal communication from C. Duffy in Graham 
(2013)). Given the uncertainty surrounding the C. harrissoni abundance 
in this area, it is currently unknown if these fishing activities are 
impacting Harrisson's dogfish populations or significantly contributing 
to its extinction risk (Graham, 2013).

Other Natural or Manmade Factors Affecting the Continued Existence of 
Harrisson's Dogfish

    Many sharks are biologically vulnerable to overexploitation due to 
their life history parameters. Species with slow population growth 
rates, late age at maturity, long gestation times, low fecundity, and 
higher longevity are especially sensitive to elevated fishing mortality 
(Musick, 1999; Garc[iacute]a et al., 2008; Hutchings et al., 2012). 
These life history traits increase the species' susceptibility to 
depletion by decreasing the species' ability to rapidly recover from 
exploitation. Harrisson's dogfish exhibits these same life history 
traits, with late maturity, long gestation times, small litter sizes, 
and high longevity. These life history traits have exacerbated the 
overall impact of the historical overutilization of the species on its 
extinction risk, leading to the substantial decline in Harrisson's 
dogfish abundance, and will continue to place the species at increased 
risk of demographic stochasticity.

Extinction Risk

    It is clear that the species faces current demographic risks that 
greatly increase its susceptibility to extinction. Due to the 
significant decline, the species is no longer found in approximately 19 
percent of its Australian range and, furthermore, throughout the rest 
of its core range, is estimated to be at 21 percent of its total virgin 
population size (with separate estimates of 11 percent for the 
continental margin population and 75 percent for the seamount 
population) (Williams et al., 2013a). Although the population on the 
seamounts may be less depleted, it also likely comprises a 
significantly smaller portion of the entire Harrisson's dogfish 
population, based on the amount of available habitat and corresponding 
carrying capacity. In fact, the continental margin habitat, where the 
population is estimated to be at only 11 percent of its total virgin 
population size, represents 86 percent of Harrisson's dogfish's 
estimated extent of occurrence and 84 percent of its estimated area of 
occupancy (TSSC, 2013), indicating significant depletion throughout 
most of the species' range. In addition, the existing Harrisson's 
dogfish populations along the continental margin and off the seamounts 
in Australia and New Zealand are small and fragmented, with only three 
identified remnant populations that are thought to be viable (due to 
presence of mature males, females, and/or juveniles within the same 
area). Two of these populations are located off the continental margin 
and the third is off Taupo Seamount. It is unclear the extent to which 
these populations can help recover Harrisson's dogfish, as breeding 
behavior, stock structure, inter-

[[Page 74973]]

population exchange, and general movement of individuals is currently 
unknown. Due to their size and isolation, these populations may be at 
an increased risk of random genetic drift and could experience the 
fixing of recessive detrimental alleles that could further contribute 
to the species' extinction risk (Musick, 2011). In addition, the patchy 
distribution of these populations throughout the species' entire range 
increases susceptibility to local extirpations from environmental and 
anthropogenic perturbations or catastrophic events. Given the apparent 
spatial structuring of the species and dominance of males in the sex 
ratios at many locations, a further reduction in the numbers of females 
at any given site may decrease reproductive success and prevent 
population replacement. The species has extremely low fecundity (2-3 
year gestation period resulting in 1 to 2 pups), slow growth rates, and 
late maturity, all of which contribute to a long population doubling 
time. In a severely depleted state, these traits may contribute to 
increasing the species' extinction risk, especially if the species is 
still subject to threats that further reduce its abundance. Thus, 
although the species' biological characteristics have allowed it to 
successfully thrive in the past, under the current conditions of 
severely fragmented populations and low abundance throughout its range, 
questionable population viability, and risk of incidental mortality 
from fisheries, the species' natural life history traits are presently 
threatening its continued existence. Specific information is lacking on 
interactions among threats.
    Without considering the effectiveness of the recently implemented 
management measures in reducing the threat of overutilization and 
improving the status of Harrisson's dogfish in Australian waters 
(discussed in the ``Protective Efforts'' section below), Miller (2014) 
concluded that Harrisson's dogfish is presently at a high risk of 
extinction due to threats of overutilization exacerbated by its natural 
biological vulnerability to depletion, the interaction of which has 
resulted in significant demographic risks to the species. We agree with 
this analysis and find that the species is presently in danger of 
extinction throughout its range. Below we evaluate formalized 
conservation efforts that have yet to be implemented or to show 
effectiveness to determine whether these efforts contribute to making 
listing the species as endangered unnecessary. We evaluate these 
conservation efforts using the criteria outlined in PECE.

Protective Efforts

    The EPBC Act, the Australian Government's central piece of 
environmental legislation, applies to any group or individual whose 
actions may have a significant impact on a ``matter of national 
environmental significance.'' Any proposed action that meets this 
standard must then be assessed to determine its environmental impact. 
Species listed as ``vulnerable,'' ``endangered,'' and ``critically 
endangered'' under the EPBC Act are considered to be matters of 
national environmental significance and receive these provisions.
    In 2009, Harrisson's dogfish was nominated for listing under the 
EPBC Act. Its status was reviewed by the Threatened Species Scientific 
Committee (TSSC), a committee established under the EPBC Act to advise 
the Australian Minister for the Environment on the amendment and 
updating of lists of threatened species, threatened ecological 
communities, and key threatening processes, and with the making or 
adoption of recovery plans and threat abatement plans. In 2013, the 
TSSC concluded that Harrisson's dogfish was eligible for listing as 
endangered under the EPBC Act because the species had suffered a severe 
reduction in numbers, with a suspected population decline of between 74 
and 82 percent (TSSC, 2013). However, the TSSC concluded that the 
species was also eligible for listing as a conservation dependent 
species under the EPBC Act because it is the ``focus of a plan of 
management [the Strategy] that provides for managed actions necessary 
to stop the decline of, and support the recovery of, the species so 
that its chances of long term survival in nature are maximized'' (TSSC, 
2013). In May 2013, based on the TSSC recommendation, the Minister of 
the Environment officially listed Harrisson's dogfish as a conservation 
dependent species under the EPBC Act. This listing means that the 
species is not considered a matter of national environmental 
significance in the context of the EPBC Act, and, as such, Harrisson's 
dogfish are exempt from the EPBC Act protective provisions.
    In 2012, AFMA published the Upper-Slope Dogfish Management Strategy 
(the ``Strategy''; see AFMA, 2012) to satisfy the aforementioned 
management requirements for a conservation dependent listing of 
Harrisson's Dogfish and Southern Dogfish under Australia's EPBC Act. 
The Strategy, which we evaluate below according to the guidelines in 
the PECE (68 FR 15100; March 28, 2003), includes regulatory management 
measures designed to rebuild the Harrisson's dogfish population above a 
limit reference point of 25 percent of its unfished biomass 
(B25). Setting a recovery time frame was deemed not feasible 
until further research on the species is completed; however, an interim 
time frame to reach this reference point was estimated based solely on 
the biological characteristics of the species (three generation times) 
and equal to 85.5 years (SWG, 2012).
    The outcomes and the effectiveness of the Strategy are expected to 
be measured on a biennial basis, as detailed in AFMA's ``Upper-Slope 
Dogfish Research and Monitoring Workplan.'' The workplan for the period 
of 2014-2016 (Workplan 1) focuses on the development of a cost-
effective method for measuring baseline relative abundance of gulper 
sharks and recovery over time (AFMA, 2014). This output will be 
assessed as part of the Research and Monitoring Workplan 2014-16 review 
(proposed time frame of July 2014-Dec 2016). Once the methodology has 
been developed, the next output (Workplan 2) is expected to produce 
baseline relative abundance estimates for Southern and Harrisson's 
dogfish (proposed time frame for output: Jan 2017-Dec 2019). Subsequent 
workplans will provide estimates of rebuilding over time and will be 
periodically assessed to ensure that the actions within the workplans 
are achieving the desired outputs. Hence, it appears it will be a 
number of years before the effectiveness of the Strategy will be able 
to be quantified. As outlined in the PECE, we must evaluate these 
conservation efforts that have not yet demonstrated effectiveness at 
the time of listing to determine whether these efforts are likely to be 
effective at reducing or eliminating threats and improving the status 
of Harrisson's dogfish. Below are the regulatory measures from the 
Strategy that have already been implemented by AFMA for the 
conservation of the species (under the legal authority of section 41A 
of the Australian Fisheries Management Act 1991 and implemented under 
``SESSF Fishery Closures Direction No. 1 2013;'' satisfying the first 
criteria of the PECE) and our subsequent evaluation of their likely 
effectiveness at improving the status of Harrisson's dogfish (the 
second criteria of the PECE). The figures and tables referenced below 
can be found in the PECE supplement (Miller, 2014b).

Prohibition on the Commercial Retention of Gulper Sharks

    The Strategy implements a complete prohibition on the commercial 
retention

[[Page 74974]]

of all gulper sharks. However, even before the prohibition, reported 
catch rates of Harrisson's dogfish in the SESSF have been minimal in 
recent years, likely due to the low abundance of the species on the 
continental margin where the fisheries operate. Harrisson's dogfish are 
not a targeted species, but rather taken as incidental catch. Although 
this prohibition will decrease the numbers of sharks being landed, it 
is worth noting that discards have outnumbered landings in recent years 
and at a rate that was deemed likely to result in further declines of 
the species (Woodhams et al., 2011). Additionally, in the latest 
Fishery Status Report for Commonwealth-managed fish stocks, it states: 
``[t]here is potential for unreported or underestimated discards (based 
on the large degree of overlap of current fishing effort with the core 
range of the species [Harrisson's dogfish]), and low levels of 
mortality can pose a risk for such depleted populations'' (Woodhams et 
al., 2013). Based on the above discarding trends, the fact that it is 
the Commonwealth Trawl Sector of the SESSF which is the main fishery 
operating within the species' core continental margin range, and the 
evidence that Harrisson's dogfish are not expected to survive after 
incidental capture in trawl gear (Rowling et al., 2010), the new 
retention prohibition may only have a minor impact on decreasing 
current fisheries-related mortality.

Network of Spatial/Area Closures

    Prior to the Strategy, a number of closures were implemented across 
the SESSF operational area (AFMA, 2012); however, there were concerns 
that these closures were too small in relation to the historical 
distribution of the species to prevent further declines or recover the 
species (Musick, 2011; Woodhams et al., 2011). Musick (2011) estimated 
that the closures protected Harrisson's dogfish from all forms of 
industrial fishing in only 9.8 percent of its habitat. In response to 
these concerns, AFMA evaluated options for closures in the Strategy and 
created a new network of spatial/area closures in 2013, taking into 
account the species' distribution and habitat potential, which would 
protect the species from various forms of fishing and prevent further 
declines.
    Regulations that are the most effective in protecting the species 
from threats of overutilization (i.e., incidental catch) are those that 
prohibit all types of fishing methods. An analysis of already 
implemented conservation efforts from the Strategy estimates that 26.3 
percent of the core Harrisson's dogfish seamount habitat (weighted by 
carrying capacity--the habitat area's ability to support dogfish 
populations) and 5.5 percent of the continental margin habitat are 
closed to all types of fishing (see Table 1; Figures 1 and 4 in Miller, 
2014b). In terms of the areas that support Harrisson's dogfish 
populations, this coverage translates to protection for 26.3 percent of 
the current biomass of the seamount population (provided by the new 
Derwent Hunter closure) and 19.1 percent of the biomass of the 
continental margin population. Contributing to the protection of the 
continental margin population are the Strategy's extension of the 
Flinders Research Zone closure and revision to the Harrisson's Gulper 
closure that prohibits fishing in the depth range of Harrisson's 
dogfish. The fact that these closures encompass areas critical to 
population viability further increases the effectiveness of this 
regulation in improving the status of the species. For example, the 
Extended Flinders Research Zone (see Figures 2a and 2b in PECE 
supplement) protects the only known potentially reproducing population 
of Harrisson's dogfish found south of Sydney. Specifically, this 
closure protects the mature male population found around Babel Island, 
the mature female population found around Cape Barren, and the likely 
migration route between these two populations that is thought to 
support mating activities (Middle Ground). Prior to this closure, only 
the Babel and Cape Barren grounds were protected, leaving the closely 
adjacent Trawl Corridor and Middle Ground open to fishing activities 
(and the potential for incidental catch). Now, this closure has been 
extended and prohibits all fishing methods from 200 to 1000 m deep, 
covering the entire depth range of Harrisson's dogfish.
    If we also consider closures that prohibit all high-risk fishing 
methods (permitting only power hand-line), the protection coverage 
increases to 24 percent of Harrisson's dogfish's entire core habitat 
(see Table 1; Figures 1-4 in Miller, 2014b). The effectiveness of these 
regulations in improving the status of Harrisson's dogfish partly 
depends on the handling of the species in fishing gear and subsequent 
post-release mortality rates of the shark. In other words, these 
regulations are only likely to be effective in decreasing threats if 
they reduce incidental catch altogether or reduce mortality rates of 
Harrisson's dogfish when incidentally caught. As these closures 
prohibit all fishing with the exception of power-handline methods, we 
need to consider the selectivity and post-release mortality of power-
handline methods on Harrisson's dogfish in order to evaluate the 
effectiveness of these closures. Based on findings from Graham (2011) 
and Williams et al. (2013b), there is a high selectivity rate for 
target species (and consequently low bycatch) when using the power 
handline technique. For example, in one of the experiments designed to 
replicate normal power-handline fishing operations for harvesting blue-
eye trevalla (the target species for power-handline fishing), results 
showed that Harrisson's dogfish could be successfully avoided. Out of a 
total of 1,435 individual line drops, 25,509 hooks, and over 10 fishing 
trips, no Harrisson's dogfish were taken as bycatch. This is in 
contrast to the 6,819 blue-eye trevalla that were caught using the 
power-handline method (Williams et al., 2013b). Likely contributing to 
this high degree of selectivity using the power handline method and 
avoidance of Harrisson's dogfish is the fact that fishing for blue-eye 
trevalla is normally conducted during daylight hours, in depths of 280-
550 m. Based on Harrisson's dogfish's diel-migration patterns, the 
species is normally found in depths greater than 550 m during daylight 
hours, deeper than the normal power handline operating depths.
    Insight into post-release mortality was also provided from the 
Williams et al. (2013b) study, as exploratory fishing for Harrisson's 
dogfish was conducted to determine the occurrence of the species on the 
seamounts. A total of 105 Harrisson's dogfish were captured during this 
exploratory component of the survey and Williams et al. (2013b) 
observed that many of these sharks, when brought to the surface, were 
in good physical condition. All but one shark were released back into 
the water alive and actively swam away. Williams et al. (2013b) 
attribute this potentially low post-release mortality to the short soak 
times associated with power-handline fishing. In addition, this type of 
fishing method consists of a high degree of spatial targeting and small 
gear size, which also likely contribute to a high survival rate of 
Harrisson's dogfish when caught on lines (Williams et al., 2013b). 
Based on these findings, we consider closures that prohibit all high-
risk fishing methods (permitting only power hand-line), as effectively 
decreasing the threat of overutilization (i.e., mortality from 
incidental catch) of Harrisson's dogfish (see Table 1; Figures 1-4 in 
Miller, 2014b). The coverage of these closures, when broken out by 
continental margin and seamount proportions and weighted by carrying 
capacity, translates to protection for

[[Page 74975]]

Harrisson's dogfish over 18.4 percent of its core continental margin 
habitat and 77.6 percent of its seamount habitat (see Table 1 in 
Miller, 2014b). Contributing to the protection of the continental 
margin population is the Strategy's extension of the Endeavour closure, 
and for the seamount population, the newly created Queensland and 
Britannia seamount closures.
    If we look at the closures that prohibit trawling operations next, 
it is estimated that 29.5 percent of the species' core habitat range is 
protected from trawling activities (see Table 1 in Miller, 2014b). With 
these regulations, almost all of the Harrisson's dogfish's core 
seamount habitat would be protected. As Harrisson's dogfish are not 
expected to survive when caught in trawl gear, these closures are 
likely to be effective in decreasing mortality rates from incidental 
catch in trawls. In fact, there is already evidence of rebuilding in 
areas that were extensively trawled but have seen significantly less 
activity recently. Graham and Daley (2011) note the presence of a high 
numbers of juveniles (<80 cm TL, including neonates) that were caught 
during a 2009 long-line survey at sites off Port Stephens NSW. This 
area had been extensively trawled during the first 20 years of the 
upper-slope fishery, but over the last 10 years has seen significantly 
less trawling activity (Graham et al., 2001; Graham and Daley, 2011). 
The authors of the study attribute the increase in juvenile sightings 
as potentially a re-establishment of the population in this area.
    NSW closures and regulations may also offer additional protection 
to the species (TSSC, 2013). Specifically, the NSW ``North of Sydney 
closure'' (see Figure 3 in Miller, 2014b) prohibits all fishing methods 
except for power-handline, but allows trawling in depths over 650 m 
(which overlaps with the Harrisson's dogfish depth range). The NSW 
trawl restriction areas 4 and 6 (see Figure 5 in Miller, 2014b) also 
provide some protection by prohibiting trawling, but are open to line 
methods. Overall, these additional regulations protect 2.4 percent of 
the core habitat (and 3 percent of the core continental margin 
habitat), mainly from trawling, except at the shallowest depths (TSSC, 
2013).
    Many uncertainties surround these estimates. We currently do not 
know the locations of important foraging grounds or nursery areas that 
are critical for population viability. In addition, we have no 
information regarding the movement of Harrisson's dogfish in and out of 
these protective closures, or the connectivity between the seamounts 
and continental margin populations. However, preliminary tagging 
studies of a closely related species, C. zeehaani, inside a fishery 
closure off southern Australia suggest that the home ranges of deep-
water dogfish sharks may be small, with evidence of resident female 
populations that can be effectively protected by fishery closures 
(Daley et al., 2014). Furthermore, as new information becomes available 
that improves the understanding of Harrisson's dogfish biology and 
stock structure, the management arrangements in the Strategy can be 
adapted as necessary to ensure the effectiveness of the Strategy over 
time.

Compliance and Enforcement

    In addition to the actual spatial extent of the closure network, 
the certainty of effectiveness of these regulatory measures in 
decreasing threats to the species also depends on the compliance and 
enforcement of these closures. For the Commonwealth fisheries, AFMA has 
created a compliance team to assist with issues such as quota evasion 
and balancing, Vessel Monitoring System (VMS) requirements, and 
compliance with fisheries closures and interactions with protected 
species. In terms of VMS requirements (a key monitoring provision in 
the Strategy), compliance rates have significantly increased over the 
years, thanks to outreach material to vessel operators. Compliance 
rates for the requirement for vessels to have an operational VMS 
averaged around 97 percent for the 2012-2013 year (AFMA, 2013a).
    Another key to the successful and effective conservation of the 
Harrisson's dogfish population so that it may rebuild in the future is 
compliance with fishing prohibitions inside closures. In 2010-2011, 
AFMA identified the activity of fishing boats entering and/or fishing 
inside closures as an occasional but significant risk. To combat this, 
they developed a ``show cause'' program whereby breaches inside 
closures were identified from VMS, and the operators of these vessels 
were sent a letter asking them to explain or ``show cause'' for their 
activity. Within a year of running the program, the incidence of 
fishing or navigating inside fishery closures had decreased from an 
average of 11 breaches per month to less than 2 breaches per month 
(AFMA, 2013b).

Conclusion

    After consideration of the evaluation criteria for certainty of 
effectiveness under the PECE, we find that these existing regulatory 
measures are likely to be effective in improving the present status of 
the species. The network of implemented closures addresses the threat 
of overutilization by prohibiting high-risk fishing methods, which 
decreases fishery-related mortality from bycatch. Based on a prior 
review by Musick (2011), it was recommended that closures include at 
least 20 to 35 percent of important Harrisson's dogfish habitat in 
order to prevent further decline of the species and potentially support 
recovery. Overall, the closures evaluated above appear to provide the 
species with effective protection from high-risk fishing methods over 
24 percent of its core habitat range (see Table 1 in Miller, 2014b). 
Specifically, the core habitat of the much-less-depleted seamount 
population is significantly protected from high-risk fishing methods 
and almost entirely protected (98.2 percent) from trawling activities 
(see Table 1 in Miller, 2014b). In fact, 77.6 percent of the seamount 
population biomass is protected from all high-risk fishing methods by 
the new closures created by the Strategy. These conservation efforts 
are likely to effectively improve and protect the status of this 
population so that it is no longer presently in danger of extinction. 
In terms of the continental margin population, the new network of 
spatial closures provides protection from high-risk fishing methods 
over 18.4 percent of the core margin habitat. The closures protect 32.4 
percent of the current biomass, including the only known viable 
population found south of Sydney, from all fishing activities, which 
will be critical for improving the status of the population (see Table 
1; Figure 1 in Miller, 2014b). Although incidental fishing mortality 
may occur outside of these closures, based on the best available 
information, we consider the current network of closures effective in 
adequately decreasing the present threat of overutilization throughout 
the species' range to the point where the species is not currently in 
danger of extinction.
    As mentioned previously, these conservation efforts have been 
designed with the explicit objective to stop the decline of Harrisson's 
dogfish and rebuild the population above 25 percent of its unfished 
biomass. AFMA's ``Upper-Slope Dogfish Research and Monitoring 
Workplan'' details the provisions for monitoring and reporting progress 
on the objective and effectiveness (based on evaluation of quantifiable 
parameters and using principles of adaptive management) of the 
implemented conservation efforts. Specifically, the outcomes and the 
effectiveness of the Strategy are expected to be measured on a biennial 
basis. However, as noted below,

[[Page 74976]]

certainty that the above conservation efforts will remain in place 
after 5 years cannot be predicted at this time. As it stands, the 
Strategy, and conservation efforts therein, are only a force under 
Australian law if AFMA continues to implement the closures under 
section 41A of the Fisheries Management Act 1991. These closures are 
implemented under ``Directions'' (for example, the current fishery 
closures to protect Harrisson's dogfish have been implemented under 
``SESSF Fishery Closures Direction No. 1 2013''). These legal 
instruments are only in effect for 5 years, after which AFMA may choose 
to extend the closures by creating a new Direction. If AFMA does not 
take action after 5 years, these closures will expire.
    Although the Upper-Slope Dogfish Research and Monitoring Workplan 
details AFMA's commitment to stop the decline of Harrisson's dogfish 
and work to rebuild the population, the protection of the species is 
not required under the EPBC Act since the species was listed as 
conservation dependent instead of endangered. In addition, in the case 
where any part of this Strategy ceases to exist or changes, the species 
would not automatically be listed as endangered under the EPBC Act. 
Rather, the TSSC would be convened and asked to evaluate how the 
changes impact the status of the species and provide recommendations on 
listing eligibility to the Minister for the Environment, with the 
ultimate decision on whether to list the species in a given category 
made by the Minister.
    While we conclude that the present conservation efforts are 
currently effective in preventing the extinction of the species, we 
have no certainty that they will remain in place after 5 years. Taking 
into account the present state and life history of the species, we do 
not consider 5 years to be sufficient time for the status of the 
species to improve to where it is no longer in danger of extinction 
without the continued implementation of these efforts. In other words, 
the removal of these conservation efforts after 5 years will once again 
subject the species to the threats described previously, and based on 
the information from the extinction risk analysis (e.g., substantial 
depletion, fragmented populations, extremely low productivity, 
sensitivity to low levels of mortality), we find that the species will 
likely become in danger of extinction at that time.
    In conclusion, after consideration of the evaluation criteria under 
the PECE, we are sufficiently certain that the implemented conservation 
efforts will effectively decrease the threat of overutilization by 
fisheries in the near term to the point where the species is no longer 
presently in danger of extinction. However, given that the 
implementation of these conservation efforts is only certain for 5 
years, a time frame that is insufficient to increase the species' 
chances of survival when faced again with prior threats, we conclude 
that the species will likely be in danger of extinction in the 
foreseeable future. We specifically seek additional information from 
the public comment process on these conservation efforts and their 
certainty of implementation and effectiveness (see below).

Proposed Determination

    We assessed the ESA section 4(a)(1) factors and conclude that the 
species faces ongoing threats from overutilization, with the species' 
natural biological vulnerability to overexploitation exacerbating the 
severity of the threats. The species faces demographic risks, such as 
small and fragmented populations with low productivity, which make it 
likely to be influenced by stochastic or depensatory processes 
throughout its range and place the species in danger of extinction from 
the aforementioned threats. We deem ongoing conservation efforts as 
currently effective in decreasing the main threat of overutilization to 
the point where the species is no longer presently in danger of 
extinction. However, the time frame over which these conservation 
efforts will certainly be in place is insufficient to increase the 
species' chances of survival or prevent its extinction through the 
foreseeable future. Therefore, based on the best available scientific 
and commercial information as presented in the status report and this 
finding, we find that C. harrissoni is not currently in danger of 
extinction throughout its range, but is likely to become so in the 
foreseeable future. We propose to list Harrisson's dogfish as a 
threatened species under the ESA.

Corals

    The three coral species considered herein are all marine 
invertebrates in the phylum Cnidaria. The phylum is called Cnidaria 
because member species use cnidae (capsules containing stinging 
nematocysts) for prey capture and defense. All are tropical, shallow 
water, scleractinian (``stony'') corals that secrete a calcium 
carbonate skeleton. Two of the three have the typical stony coral 
symbiosis with zooxanthellae (photosynthetic) algae that reside in 
gastrodermal cells of the coral tissue. All are non-reef building 
corals that live in small colonies or as solitary individuals. The 
following section describes our analysis of the status of the three 
species. Information on many of the species is sparse, so we cannot 
provide complete descriptions of their natural history. More details 
can be found in Meadows (2014).

Species Description of Cantharellus noumeae

    Cantharellus noumeae is a fungiid or mushroom coral that was the 
first described species of its genus, in 1984 (Hoeksema and Best, 
1984). It received its own new genus name because, unlike most other 
fungiid corals, it is stalked and not free-living as an adult. Other 
species in the genus have since been discovered and named, so the genus 
is no longer monotypic. Polyps are relatively small for a fungiid 
coral, ranging from 25 to 65 mm in diameter (Hoeksema and Best, 1984). 
The polyps are cup-shaped when fully developed and have wavy margins 
(AIMS, 2013a). The primary septa are thin. The species may be solitary 
or colonial; colonies consist of a few contorted polyps. Their typical 
color is mottled brown.
    Cantharellus noumeae was thought to occur only in a restricted area 
of less than 225 km \2\ on reefs in sheltered bays in New Caledonia, on 
the southern tip of the main island of Grand Terre (Hoeksema et al., 
2008). Recent research by the French Institut de Recherche pour le 
D[eacute]veloppement (IRD) has found that the species also occurs on 
fringing reefs farther up the southeast coast at Noumea and at Balabaio 
in the northeastern part of New Caledonia (www.lagplon.ird.nc; Antoine 
Gilbert, Ginger Soproner, personal communication, 2013). It is found in 
waters 10 to 35 m deep, close to soft sediment habitats that are in 
sheltered bays and lagoons (Hoeksema and Best, 1984). There are records 
of it in western, northern, and eastern parts of the island of New 
Guinea that includes Papua New Guinea and West Papua, Indonesia, with 
details likely to be published soon on a new Web site (http://coralsoftheworld.com; Charlie Veron, personal communication). There are 
also reports of it from Papua New Guinea in the International Union for 
Conservation of Nature (IUCN) assessment, but the assessment questions 
the validity of this record (Hoeksema et al., 2008). The IUCN 
assessment and the researcher whose published record is in question 
(Doug Fenner) suggest further confirmation is necessary (Hoeksema et 
al., 2008; Fenner, personal communication). Fossil records from over 5 
million years ago indicate that this species was at one time found as 
far west as East Kalimantan, on the island of Borneo,

[[Page 74977]]

Indonesia (Hoeksema, 1989; Hoeksema, 1993).
    Scleractinian corals have diverse reproductive strategies, 
including both asexual and sexual modes of reproduction (see Brainard 
et al., 2011). Individual reproductive modes for these three species 
have not been studied. Cantharellus noumeae may be a sequential sex-
changing species like other members of its family. Because of their 
relationship with symbiotic zooxanthellae, C. noumeae needs to live in 
shallow water to be exposed to light the symbiotic algae use to 
photsynthetically fix carbon.
    There is no quantitative species-specific population or trend 
information available for C. noumeae (Hoeksema et al., 2008; Gilbert, 
personal communication). The current and continuing presence of the 
species in New Caledonia was confirmed by Bert Hoeksema (personal 
communication) in 2012 and in one murky location in Prony Bay on the 
southern tip of Grand Terre in 2013 (Andrew Bruckner, personal 
communication). In addition, Antoine Gilbert (personal communication) 
notes that from surveys he has done over the past 4 years, the species 
is ``uncommon and usually found in fringing reefs where sedimentation 
is quite intense.'' He also noted that the species is ``usually found 
in low density, [but] it was observed in relative[ly] high density on 
the slope of artificial shores (embankment) in the biggest (commercial 
and industrial) harbour of New Caledonia: la Grande Rade.'' We found no 
information on abundance or trends on New Guinea. Its presence at one 
site in Milne Bay (Fenner, 2003) is uncertain; Charlie Veron may 
publish information from New Guinea on his Web site soon (see above).

Species Description of Siderastrea glynni

    Siderastrea glynni was described in 1994 (Budd and Guzm[aacute]n, 
1994). It occurs in non-reef-forming spherical colonies that are 70 to 
100 mm in diameter (AIMS, 2013b). They have polygonal corallites that 
are 2.5 to 3.5 mm in diameter (Budd and Guzm[aacute]n, 1994). The 
species is a light reddish-brown in color and occurs on coarse sand-
rubble substrates. Recent genetic work by Forsman et al. (2005) has 
shown that S. glynni is genetically very similar to the Caribbean 
species S. siderea, though there are differences between the species. 
Their study could not differentiate between two possible explanations 
of the species' evolution: (1) that S. siderea and S. glynni are the 
same species and that S. glynni may have recently passed through or 
been carried across the Panama Canal to the Pacific Ocean side; or (2) 
the alternate possibility that S. glynni evolved from S. siderea, 
likely about 2 to 2.3 million years ago during a period of high sea 
level, when the Isthmus of Panama may have been breached, allowing 
inter-basin transfer of the species' ancestors. Because the available 
information to reclassify the species is inconclusive, we determine 
that S. glynni is a valid and unique species.
    The range of S. glynni is a small area of the Pacific Ocean near 
the small island of Uraba in Panama Bay, a few kilometers from the 
opening of the Panama Canal (Guzm[aacute]n and Edgar, 2008). Identified 
colonies of S. glynni were reported to be unattached and occur ``along 
the upper sand-coral rubble reef slope at a depth of 7 to 8.5 meters'' 
(Budd and Guzm[aacute]n, 1994). All the islands around the site, as 
well as another set of islands to the south, were searched several 
times without finding any additional colonies (Fenner, 2001).
    The reproductive mode for this species has also not been studied. 
Because of their relationship with symbiotic zooxanthellae, S. glynni 
need to live in shallow water to be exposed to light the symbiotic 
algae use to photsynthetically fix carbon.
    Only five colonies of S. glynni have ever been found. All were 
found by Budd and Guzm[aacute]n (1994) when they discovered the species 
in 1992. All five colonies occurred within a small area of less than 10 
m \2\, with each colony within 1 m of another (Budd and Guzm[aacute]n, 
1994). Each colony was no more than 20 cm \2\ in size. One colony was 
sacrificed in order to provide material for the species' description. 
During the 1997-98 El Ni[ntilde]o event, the four surviving colonies 
started to deteriorate, displaying signs of bleaching and tissue loss. 
Due to their unhealthy state, the four colonies were moved to 
Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI) aquaria in Panama City, 
Panama, where they remain to this day (Guzm[aacute]n and Edgar, 2008; 
Hector Guzm[aacute]n, STRI, personal communication, 2013). According to 
Guzm[aacute]n (personal communication, 2013) the colonies were 
fragmented to increase the number of specimens, but their growth rate 
has been very slow, and some fragments did not survive. From the 
original colonies, only one survives, with less than 4 cm\2\ of living 
tissue. Nine of the fragmented colonies also survive in the lab and all 
are less than 9 cm \2\ in area (Guzm[aacute]n, personal communication, 
2013). No known colonies exist in the wild; however, there is a 
possibility that it still exists elsewhere in the wild and is yet 
undiscovered (Guzm[aacute]n and Edgar, 2008). There are no plans to re-
introduce the species, as existing colonies are too small to survive, 
though three of the fragments are being considered for 
cryopreservation, which would further reduce the population size 
(Guzm[aacute]n, personal communication, 2013).

Species Description of Tubastraea floreana

    Tubastraea floreana was first described by Wells (1982). It is an 
azooxanthellate species, which means it lacks the symbiotic 
photosynthetic zooxanthellae that most scleractinians have. It has a 
bright pink color while alive, but turns deep red-black when dead out 
of water. Corallites in the species are closely spaced (Cairns, 1991) 
and about 4-6 mm in size (Wells, 1983).
    Tubastraea floreana is endemic to a few sites on a number of 
islands in the Galapagos Islands chain. It is mostly found in cryptic 
habitats, including on the ceilings of caves, and on ledges and rock 
overhangs (Hickman et al., 2007). It has been reported to occur at 
depths of 2 to 46 m (Hickman et al., 2007).
    The reproductive mode of this species has not been studied, but 
other Tubastraea species reproduce asexually. Other Tubastraea species 
are invasive and productive (Riul et al., 2013), so T. floreana is also 
likely to be moderately productive.
    According to Hickman et al. (2007), prior to the 1982-83 El 
Ni[ntilde]o Southern Oscillation (ENSO) this species was known from six 
sites on four islands in the Galapagos. Since the 1982-83 ENSO, 
specimens have only been observed at two sites. At one of these two 
sites, the species has not been seen since 2001, leaving only a single 
confirmed site with living specimens (Hickman et al., 2007). Recent 
reports indicate the species is still present in at least one site 
(Stuart Banks, Charles Darwin Foundation, personal communication, 
2013). We know of no other published information on distribution or 
abundance for this species.

Summary of Factors Affecting the Three Species of Coral

    Next we consider whether any one or a combination of the threat 
factors specified in section 4(a)(1) of the ESA are contributing to the 
extinction risk of these three corals. Available information does not 
indicate that overutilization is an operative threat for these species; 
therefore, we do not discuss this factor further here. We discuss each 
of the remaining four factors and their

[[Page 74978]]

interaction in turn below, with species-specific information following 
a general discussion relevant to all of the species. A full review of 
all of the ESA section 4(a)(1) threat factors can be found in Meadows 
(2014b) and our final rule listing 20 corals (20-coral listing rule) 
under the ESA (79 FR 53851; September 10, 2014), which provides a 
general global summary of threats facing corals. Our 20-coral listing 
rule identified ocean warming, ocean acidification, sea-level rise, 
disease, sedimentation, nutrient enrichment, and fishing as the major 
global threats to coral reefs. The information about these threats and 
the species' responses to these threats is described in the 20-coral 
listing rule and incorporated herein by reference. Species-specific 
information regarding applicability of these threats to the three 
species considered here is discussed below, where available. The extent 
to which the risks discussed in the 20-coral listing rule are similar 
to the risks to these three corals is discussed for each species.

The Present or Threatened Destruction, Modification, or Curtailment of 
Its Habitat or Range

    Habitat modification from climate change is a potential threat to 
all three species of corals (79 FR 53851; September 10, 2014). Coral 
bleaching occurs when the photosynthetic zooxanthellae symbionts of 
corals are damaged by light at higher than normal temperatures. The 
resulting damage leads to the expulsion of these important organisms 
from the coral host, depriving the host of the nutrients and energy 
provided by the zooxanthellae. While corals can survive mild to 
moderate bleaching, repeated, severe, or prolonged bleaching can lead 
to colony mortality. Bleaching events have been increasing both in 
intensity and geographic extent due to worldwide anthropogenic climate 
change (Hoegh-Guldberg, 2006; Eakin et al., 2009). Certain genera and 
growth forms, particularly branched species, are more sensitive to 
bleaching than others (Wooldridge, 2013). Many corals are 
physiologically optimized to their local long-term seasonal variations 
in temperatures and an increase of only 1-2 [deg]C above the normal 
local seasonal maximum can induce bleaching (Brainard et al., 2011; 
Logan et al., 2013). The United States NOAA Coral Reef Watch satellite 
bleaching database shows that the range of all three species occurs in 
areas that frequently have bleaching alerts, with alerts being more 
frequent and severe in the ranges of S. glynni and T. floreana, than in 
the range of C. noumeae.
    Ocean acidification threatens to slow or halt coral growth and reef 
building entirely if the pH of the ocean becomes too low for corals to 
form their calcite skeletons, but tolerance appears to vary by species 
for those that have been studied (see Brainard et al., 2011). In 
addition, bioerosion of reefs is likely to accelerate as coral 
skeletons become more fragile as a result of the effects of 
acidification, but effects are highly species-specific. Since the 
petitioned species are not reef-building, this effect is likely to be 
less significant.
    Sea-level is also likely to rise as a result of climate change, but 
effects on corals are highly uncertain, owing to uncertainty in both 
the likely rate and extent of sea-level rise as well as the ability of 
corals generally (or the petitioned species specifically) to keep pace 
with the rise in sea level (Brainard et al., 2011; 79 FR 53851; 
September 10, 2014).
    While climate change effects are likely to be serious for many 
corals, Brainard et al. (2011) and our final rule listing 20 corals 
under the ESA (79 FR 53851; September 10, 2014) show that adaptation 
and acclimatization of corals to increased ocean temperatures are 
possible, that there is intra-genus and inter-species variation in 
susceptibility to bleaching, ocean acidification, and sedimentation, 
that at least some species have already expanded their range in 
response to climate change, and that not all species are seriously 
affected by ocean acidification. In addition, a more recent paper by 
Logan et al. (2013) examined the potential for coral adaptation and 
acclimatization to climate change and found that these processes can 
reduce the frequency of mass bleaching events in the future. Their 
modeling results suggest some adaptation or acclimatization may even 
have already occurred. A study by Wooldridge (2014) provides support 
that a suite of morphological and physiological traits relate to 
bleaching vulnerability. These include symbionts' type, metabolic rate, 
colony tissue thickness, skeletal growth form, mucus production rates, 
fluorescent pigment concentrations, and heterotrophic feeding capacity. 
According to Wooldridge (2014), these traits tend to correlate with the 
ends of the dichotomy of branching and plate corals with thin tissue 
layers versus massive and encrusting corals with thick tissue layers. 
The species under consideration here are not necessarily the most 
vulnerable, based on those traits (see below). Therefore, while climate 
change is generally considered a potential threat to these candidate 
corals, the likelihood and magnitude of threats from climate change are 
largely species-specific and must be examined on that basis to fully 
assess extinction risk (79 FR 53851; September 10, 2014).
    In addition to the general global threats identified in our status 
review of 82 corals and final rule listing 20 corals under the ESA 
(Brainard et al., 2011; 79 FR 53851; September 10, 2014), there are 
some species-specific threats for which we have detailed information at 
the scale of these species' ranges that are discussed below.

Cantharellus noumeae

    Cantharellus noumeae is exposed to deforestation, urbanization, and 
mining activity that causes sedimentation and water pollution 
throughout its range in New Caledonia (Hoeksema et al., 2008; David et 
al., 2010; McKenna et al., 2011). The mining activity is a result of 
nickel and smaller amounts of other metal mining (cobalt and chromium 
especially) on land throughout the main island of Grand Terre (McKenna 
et al., 2011; Hoeksema, personal communication). Grand Terre holds 25 
percent of the world's known nickel deposits (McKenna et al., 2011). 
Nickel mining started there in the 1870s. Currently, most mining is 
done by open-cast strip mining, which has caused deforestation and 
increased erosion and runoff of sediments leading to varying degrees of 
sedimentation and light attenuation throughout the lagoon of Grand 
Terre, including in areas in and adjacent to the species' range 
(Ouillon et al., 2010). Labrosse et al. (2000) estimate that 300 
million m \3\ of soil has been displaced since the beginning of mining 
activities. Mines are located across the country, including the large 
new Goro complex, which includes mines, processing facilities, and a 
port. The complex began production in late 2010 and is very near the 
most abundant population of C. noumeae. The Goro complex has already 
had three incidents affecting the environment, involving spills or 
releases of sulfuric acid solutions used in the processing of the 
nickel ore (Sulfuric Acid on the Web, 2013). Runoff of heavy metals 
from the mining operations has greatly increased concentrations of 
those metals in the marine environment (Fichez et al., 2010). Nickel 
has been shown to affect fertilization success of four reef coral 
species in the families Acroporidae and Faviidae (Reichelt-Brushett and 
Harrison, 2005) and to affect settlement and cause mortality of larvae 
in the coral Pocillopora damicornis (Goh, 1991). Gilbert (personal 
communication, 2013) reports that the species is common in areas of 
high sedimentation and in the largest harbor, so it may be

[[Page 74979]]

tolerant to environmental stressors like sedimentation. The species may 
have the ability to actively remove sediments, as has been shown in 
some other fungiid corals (Bongaerts et al., 2012), but this is 
uncertain. Mitigation measures for mining operations are required by 
legislation and include reef monitoring requirements (UNESCO, 2011; 
Gilbert, personal communication, 2013), but this monitoring is not at 
the species level (Gilbert, personal communication, 2013). It is 
unclear how effective the mitigation methods are, as sedimentation and 
pollution remain concerns (David et al., 2010).
    Despite the frequency of bleaching alerts, heat-related bleaching 
is apparently not a significant current threat in the range of C. 
noumeae in New Caledonia, as water temperatures there are relatively 
low (Hoeksema, Naturalis Biodiversity Center, personal communication, 
2013) and the ReefBase coral bleaching database only reports events 
with low bleaching severity as the worst past events to ever occur 
there. We have found no species-specific information on the 
susceptibility of this species to bleaching or ocean acidification; 
however, its growth form suggests it is not among the most susceptible 
species (Wooldridge, 2014).
    Anthropogenic eutrophication occurs in the range of the species 
near the capital of Noumea and is attributed mostly to inadequately 
treated sewage (Fichez et al., 2010), although 19 aquaculture farms on 
the west coast and island-wide agriculture may also play roles (David 
et al., 2010). Storm events and flooding have also recently occurred in 
the range of the species (EMR, 2013), and there is concern that climate 
change may make such events more frequent in New Caledonia (Gilbert, 
personal communication, 2013).
    The biggest threats to New Guinea's coral reef resources include 
sedimentation and pollution from inland sources (e.g., forest 
clearance, sewage, and erosion), climate change, and dynamite fishing 
(Burke et al., 2011; PNG, 2009; PNG, 2012). There is little specific 
data on these threats in New Guinea in the above references.

Siderastrea glynni

    Should S. glynni ever be restored to the wild, it faces 
considerable habitat degradation threats from coastal development, oil 
production, sedimentation, eutrophication and other pollution, and 
increased transportation activities in the Panama City area, the Gulf 
of Panama, and the enlarged Panama Canal, which is due to open in 2016 
(Mate, 2003; Guzm[aacute]n and Edgar, 2008). Almost continuous dredging 
and release of oil-based compounds (bunker oil, diesel, gasoline, etc.) 
that are spilled from nearby port facilities and commercial vessels 
anchored near the species' natural range are other reasons why it was 
decided to transfer and then keep in captivity the remaining known 
colonies (Guzman, personal communication, 2013). ``During the 1997-98 
ENSO event, the four known colonies of S. glynni began to deteriorate, 
displaying bleaching and tissue loss'' (Guzm[aacute]n and Edgar, 2008). 
This suggests this species is vulnerable to increased ocean 
temperatures, though there is no specific research on this point. As 
discussed above, the area of the species' range is subject to a high 
frequency of bleaching warnings. We have found no species-specific 
information on the susceptibility of this species to ocean 
acidification.

Tubastraea floreana

    For T. floreana, there is a lack of information on thermal 
tolerances, but ``the dramatic reduction in its distribution 
immediately after the 1982-83 [ENSO] event suggests that this mortality 
resulted from the event'' (Hickman et al., 2007). This is true despite 
the fact that this species is azooxanthellate, suggesting that other 
mechanisms besides loss of calorie subsidy from symbionts are involved. 
Edgar et al. (2010) document a series of drastic ecosystem changes in 
the Galapagos following the 1982-83 ENSO event, including dramatic 
declines in dissolved nutrients and phytoplankton productivity, leading 
to declines across the food chain and resulting in heavily grazed reefs 
with crustose coralline algae (``urchin barrens'') replacing former 
macroalgal and coral habitats. A total of 95-99 percent of reef coral 
cover was lost from the Galapagos between 1983 and 1985 (Edgar et al., 
2010). All known coral reefs based on calcareous frameworks died and 
subsequently disintegrated to rubble and sand (Glynn, 1994). These 
changes led to large decreases in biodiversity. The urchin Eucidaris 
galapagensis now appears to be present in sufficient numbers to prevent 
re-establishment of coral and macroalgal habitat, thereby facilitating 
a regime shift in local benthic habitats (Edgar et al., 2010). 
Moreover, the Galapagos Islands sit near the center of the most intense 
El Ni[ntilde]o events in the region (Glynn and Ault, 2000) and are 
regularly included in bleaching threat warnings issued by NOAA (see 
above). Therefore, future ENSO events and inhibition of recruitment are 
likely to remain threats to T. floreana. We have found no species-
specific information on the susceptibility of this species to ocean 
acidification.

Disease and Predation

    Coral disease has been linked to the effects of climate change (see 
Brainard et al., 2011), especially indirectly as a synergistic effect, 
as climate change and other threats potentially increase stress on 
corals, making them more susceptible to disease. Coral diseases also 
appear to be increasing worldwide (Roessig et al., 2004). Nevertheless, 
susceptibility of coral species to disease is highly species-specific 
and no generalizations can be made. We found no species-specific 
information on disease in C. noumeae or T. floreana. Black-band, dark 
spot, and white plague diseases in the Caribbean occur in S. siderea, 
which is closely related to S. glynni (Sekar et al., 2008; Brandt and 
McManus, 2009; Cardenas et al., 2012), suggesting S. glynni may be 
susceptible to similar coral diseases, but we have no solid 
information.
    With respect to predation, we found no information on predation 
threats to S. glynni or T. floreana. For C. noumeae, one potential 
predation threat is Acanthaster planci (crown-of-thorns starfish). 
Acanthaster planci does not appear to be a major cause of coral 
mortality in New Caledonia (Adjeroud, 2012), but several remote reefs 
surveyed during the Global Reef Expedition in November 2013 on the 
outer-slope of Guilbert's atolls showed evidence of past outbreaks 
(LOF, 2013).

Inadequacy of Existing Regulatory Mechanisms

    The petitioners discussed regulation of trade in corals under CITES 
as a threat to these species. All of the species considered in this 
petition were listed in Appendix II of CITES in 1989, when all 
scleractinian corals were listed. While only some scleractinians were 
in trade at the time, the 1989 listing rationale for including all 
scleractinians in Appendix II was because of identification 
difficulties where non-traded species resemble species in trade. 
According to Article II of CITES, species listed on Appendix II are 
those that are ``not necessarily now threatened with extinction but may 
become so unless trade in specimens of such species is subject to 
strict regulation in order to avoid utilization incompatible with their 
survival.'' Based on the CITES definitions and standards for listing 
species on Appendix II, the species' listing on Appendix II is not 
itself an inherent indication that these species may now warrant 
threatened or endangered status under the ESA. The

[[Page 74980]]

significance of any threat from international trade would depend on the 
amount of international trade relative to the population size of the 
species, as well as any other factors related to the trade, such as 
habitat damage caused in the collecting process, or synergistic effects 
of other threats. We have no information any of these three species is 
traded internationally.
    Because each of the species considered herein exists in small 
ranges that do not overlap with each other, and they are not otherwise 
managed or regulated under any other common international regimes, 
additional discussion of this factor is left for the species-specific 
entries for this section, below.

Cantharellus noumeae

    Since the Organic Law (No. 99-209) on March 19, 1999, New Caledonia 
has been recognized as an ``Overseas Country'' of France. This status 
gives New Caledonia extensive autonomy with respect to France. In 
particular, the national laws in force within France are no longer 
applicable to New Caledonia, and New Caledonia now manages the ocean 
resources of its Exclusive Economic Zone. The territorial sea and the 
maritime public domain (coastal terrestrial and nearshore aquatic zone 
originating under French colonial law) depend on management from New 
Caledonia's three provinces (David et al., 2010). In the two provinces 
where C. noumeae occurs, collection of live corals (and other marine 
resources) is restricted to scientists and licensed fishers who can 
only collect for a domestic market.
    The range of C. noumeae is included in the United Nations 
Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage 
Site designation for the ``Lagoons of New Caledonia'' site, 
specifically within the South Grand Lagoon area. The World Heritage 
Site implementation is supported by specific legislation on fisheries, 
land and water use planning, urban development, and mining (Morris and 
Mackay, 2008). A wide monitoring program of the heritage site all 
around New Caledonia was created (Andr[eacute]fou[euml]t 2008), but 
this suffers from a lack of sampling at a species level (Gilbert, 
personal communication, 2013). In 2011, the World Heritage Committee of 
UNESCO (the organizing body for World Heritage Sites) issued Decision 
35Com 7B.22, which expressed concern regarding permits granted to the 
mining company GEOVIC to explore for cobalt in mineral sands in areas 
adjacent to the site and near the range of C. noumeae. The committee 
requested that New Caledonia submit Environmental Impact Assessments 
for the proposed exploration and possible exploitation of cobalt sands 
to the World Heritage Centre. We have no evidence this has occurred. 
The New Caledonian Mining Code prescribes mitigation measures to 
mitigate the impacts of mining activities (see above), and abandoned 
mines are being restored using indigenous plant species (UNESCO, 2011).
    In Papua New Guinea, there is a variety of legislation to protect 
biodiversity and habitat, including a mandate to ensure marine resource 
sustainability, and a plan of action directed at coral reef 
conservation (PNG, 2009). However, as noted above, threats remain. 
Resources and capacity may not be adequate to ensure full 
implementation of the laws and plan (PNG, 2009; PNG, 2012).
    Overall, we do not believe that the threat to C. noumeae from 
habitat modification, destruction, and pollution is adequately 
addressed or mitigated by existing regulatory mechanisms.

Siderastrea glynni

    A national law in Panama prohibits coral extraction or mining 
(Guzm[aacute]n, 2003), but enforcement is weak and the law may not 
fully protect rare species (Guzm[aacute]n, personal communication, 
2013). The range of S. glynni is adjacent to the Bay of Panama, which 
is designated an internationally important wetland under the Ramsar 
Convention and contains extensive mangrove beds that are critical 
nursery grounds for many marine species. The Bay is a protected 
Wildlife Refuge under Panamanian law. However, developers seek to open 
the area for tourism, and Panamanian authorities have requested a 
reduction of the Ramsar area of the bay (AIDA, 2013). We were not able 
to find any other species-specific information on this threat. Based on 
the available information, it is not clear that existing regulatory 
mechanisms would be adequate to protect S. glynni, should it be 
reintroduced into the wild or found in additional locations.

Tubastraea floreana

    The Gal[aacute]pagos Marine Reserve was established in 1986 and 
expanded to its current size around all the islands in 1998. The 
reserve has a zoning plan with both limited and multiple use zones. 
Rules prohibit removing or disturbing any plant, animal, or remains of 
such, or other natural objects. Tubastraea floreana also occurs inside 
the Galapagos Island World Heritage Site (expanded to include Galapagos 
Marine Reserve areas in 2001) and the Gal[aacute]pagos Island Man and 
Biosphere Reserve (1984), both designations of UNESCO. The area was 
also designated a Gal[aacute]pagos Archipelago Particularly Sensitive 
Area in 2005. This is a designation by the International Maritime 
Organization (IMO) that recognizes the area as having ecological, 
socio-economic, or scientific attributes that make the area vulnerable 
to damage by international shipping activities. Based on this 
designation, the IMO instituted special navigation rules in the area. 
In addition, Ecuador's ``Ley de Gestion Ambiental'' (Law of 
Environmental Management) establishes principles and directives for 
environmental management, land-use planning, zoning, sustainable use, 
and natural heritage conservation. Ecuador's fisheries law states that 
no harm may be caused to areas that are declared protected, with corals 
included under those protections (MCA Toolkit, 2013). While the above 
laws and protected area designations provide a great deal of protection 
for resources in the area in principal, in practice, illegal activities 
and incomplete and difficult enforcement, as discussed in the status 
review report (Meadows, 2014), could threaten T. floreana. Moreover, 
the threats from climate change and ENSO events are outside the scope 
of these protections.

Other Natural or Manmade Factors Affecting Their Continued Existence

    The range of C. noumeae in New Caledonia is exposed to eight 
tropical storms per year on average (David et al., 2010). Specific 
effects of storms on this species are not documented, but the 
petitioner submitted an undated Web page that claims Cyclone Erica 
destroyed between 10 and 80 percent of live coral in New Caledonia in 
2003 (EDGE, Undated; Guillemot et al., 2010). We were not able to find 
any other species-specific information available regarding this threat 
category for C. noumeae. Based on this information, we consider 
tropical storms an additional potential natural threat to the species, 
for which we seek additional information (see below).
    For S. glynni and T. floreana, both species have such a small 
number of colonies, they are susceptible to all of the problems of 
species with low genetic diversity and population size, including 
inbreeding depression, population bottlenecks, Allee effects, and 
density-independent mortality, among others.

Extinction Risk

    The extinction risk analyses of Meadows (2014) found all three 
species to be at either a moderately high or high

[[Page 74981]]

risk of extinction. The extinction risk for C. noumeae was found to be 
moderately high, based on the species' small, restricted range, likely 
low growth rate and genetic diversity, and potential threats from 
development, water pollution, possibly sedimentation at some level, and 
potential illegal activities, mitigated by consideration of potential 
resilience to sedimentation threats and uncertainty regarding 
sensitivity to heavy metals. Based on the current information, this is 
the case whether or not the species' range includes New Guinea. The 
extinction risk for S. glynni was found to be high, due to the lack of 
known populations in the wild, a small captive population in a single 
location, likely low growth rates and genetic diversity, and potential 
increased threats from El Ni[ntilde]o, climate change, disease, and 
other development and habitat degradation, should the species be 
reintroduced to Panama. The extinction risk for T. floreana was found 
to be high, based on its small, restricted range, documented declines, 
likely low levels of genetic diversity, and threats from El 
Ni[ntilde]o, climate change, development, and illegal activities, 
mitigated by potential for moderate productivity.
    After reviewing the best available scientific data and the 
extinction risk evaluations of the three species of coral, we concur 
with Meadows (2014) and conclude that the risk of extinction for all 
three species is currently high.

Protective Efforts

    We evaluated conservation efforts we are aware of to protect and 
recover coral that are either underway but not yet shown to be 
effective, or are only planned. We were not able to find any 
information on conservation efforts specific to C. noumeae or T. 
floreana, or their habitat, that are not yet implemented or shown to be 
effective and that would potentially alter the extinction risk for the 
species. For S. glynni, we are aware that Dr. Hector Guzm[aacute]n, who 
maintains the only surviving colonies of this species in captivity at 
the STRI laboratories, is planning to cryopreserve some specimens to 
provide an additional means to recover the species and preserve its 
genetic information. The certainty that this effort will be implemented 
is unclear. Further, the effectiveness of a cryopreservation effort for 
species recovery is largely unknown, and thus it is impossible to 
determine whether this effort will be effective in conserving or 
improving the status of this species. We are thus not able to conclude 
that any current conservation efforts would alter the extinction risk 
for any of these three species. We seek additional information on other 
conservation efforts in our public comment process (see below).

Proposed Determination

    Based on the best available scientific and commercial information 
as presented in the status report and this finding, we find that all 
three species of coral are in danger of extinction throughout all of 
their ranges. We assessed the ESA section 4(a)(1) factors and conclude 
that Cantharellus noumeae, Siderastrea glynni, and Tubastraea floreana 
all face ongoing threats from habitat alteration, small ranges and/or 
population sizes, and the inadequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms 
throughout their ranges. C. noumeae also faces risks from pollution and 
S. glynni may be at risk from disease. We therefore propose to list all 
three species as endangered.

Effects of Listing

    Conservation measures provided for species listed as endangered or 
threatened under the ESA include recovery actions (16 U.S.C. 1533(f)); 
concurrent designation of critical habitat, if prudent and determinable 
(16 U.S.C. 1533(a)(3)(A)); Federal agency requirements to consult with 
NMFS under section 7 of the ESA to ensure their actions do not 
jeopardize the species or result in adverse modification or destruction 
of critical habitat should it be designated (16 U.S.C. 1536); and 
prohibitions on taking (16 U.S.C. 1538). Recognition of the species' 
plight through listing promotes conservation actions by Federal and 
state agencies, foreign entities, private groups, and individuals. The 
main effects of the proposed endangered listings are prohibitions on 
take, including export and import.

Identifying Section 7 Conference and Consultation Requirements

    Section 7(a)(2) (16 U.S.C. 1536(a)(2)) of the ESA and NMFS/USFWS 
regulations require Federal agencies to consult with us to ensure that 
activities they authorize, fund, or carry out are not likely to 
jeopardize the continued existence of listed species or destroy or 
adversely modify critical habitat. Section 7(a)(4) (16 U.S.C. 
1536(a)(4)) of the ESA and NMFS/USFWS regulations also require Federal 
agencies to confer with us on actions likely to jeopardize the 
continued existence of species proposed for listing, or that result in 
the destruction or adverse modification of proposed critical habitat of 
those species. It is unlikely that the listing of these species under 
the ESA will increase the number of section 7 consultations, because 
these species occur outside of the United States and are unlikely to be 
affected by Federal actions.

Critical Habitat

    Critical habitat is defined in section 3 of the ESA (16 U.S.C. 
1532(5)) as: (1) The specific areas within the geographical area 
occupied by a species, at the time it is listed in accordance with the 
ESA, on which are found those physical or biological features (a) 
essential to the conservation of the species and (b) that may require 
special management considerations or protection; and (2) specific areas 
outside the geographical area occupied by a species at the time it is 
listed upon a determination that such areas are essential for the 
conservation of the species. ``Conservation'' means the use of all 
methods and procedures needed to bring the species to the point at 
which listing under the ESA is no longer necessary. Section 4(a)(3)(A) 
of the ESA (16 U.S.C. 1533(a)(3)(A)) requires that, to the extent 
prudent and determinable, critical habitat be designated concurrently 
with the listing of a species. However, critical habitat shall not be 
designated in foreign countries or other areas outside U.S. 
jurisdiction (50 CFR 424.12 (h)).
    The best available scientific and commercial data as discussed 
above identify the geographical areas occupied by Aipysurus fuscus, 
Cantharellus noumeae, Centrophorus harrissoni, Pterapogon kauderni, 
Siderastrea glynni, and Tubastraea floreana as being entirely outside 
U.S. jurisdiction, so we cannot designate critical habitat for these 
species.
    We can designate critical habitat in areas in the United States 
currently unoccupied by the species, if the area(s) are determined by 
the Secretary to be essential for the conservation of the species. 
Regulations at 50 CFR 424.12(e) specify that we shall designate as 
critical habitat areas outside the geographical range presently 
occupied by the species only when the designation limited to its 
present range would be inadequate to ensure the conservation of the 
species. The best available scientific and commercial information on 
these species does not indicate that U.S. waters provide any specific 
essential biological function for any of the species proposed for 
listing. Based on the best available information, we have not 
identified unoccupied area(s) in U.S. water that are currently 
essential to the conservation of any of the corals proposed for 
listing. Therefore, based on the available

[[Page 74982]]

information, we do not intend to designate critical habitat for 
Aipysurus fuscus, Cantharellus noumeae, Centrophorus harrissoni, 
Pterapogon kauderni, Siderastrea glynni, and Tubastraea floreana.

Identification of Those Activities That Would Constitute a Violation of 
Section 9 of the ESA

    On July 1, 1994, NMFS and FWS published a policy (59 FR 34272) that 
requires us to identify, to the maximum extent practicable at the time 
a species is listed, those activities that would or would not 
constitute a violation of section 9 of the ESA.
    Because we are proposing to list all three corals and the dusky sea 
snake as endangered, all of the prohibitions of section 9(a)(1) of the 
ESA will apply to these species. These include prohibitions against the 
import, export, use in foreign commerce, or ``take'' of the species. 
These prohibitions apply to all persons subject to the jurisdiction of 
the United States, including in the United States, its territorial sea, 
or on the high seas. Take is defined as ``to harass, harm, pursue, 
hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture, or collect, or to attempt to 
engage in any such conduct.'' The intent of this policy is to increase 
public awareness of the effects of this listing on proposed and ongoing 
activities within the species' range. Activities that we believe could 
result in a violation of section 9 prohibitions for these species 
include, but are not limited to, the following:
    (1) Possessing, delivering, transporting, or shipping any 
individual or part (dead or alive) taken in violation of section 
9(a)(1);
    (2) Delivering, receiving, carrying, transporting, or shipping in 
interstate or foreign commerce any individual or part, in the course of 
a commercial activity;
    (3) Selling or offering for sale in interstate commerce any part, 
except antique articles at least 100 years old;
    (4) Importing or exporting;
    (5) Releasing captive animals into the wild without a permit issued 
under section 10(a)(1)(A). Although animals held non-commercially in 
captivity at the time of listing are exempt from the prohibitions of 
import and export, the individual animals are considered listed and 
afforded most of the protections of the ESA, including most 
importantly, the prohibition against injuring or killing. Release of a 
captive animal has the potential to injure or kill the animal. Of an 
even greater conservation concern, the release of a captive animal has 
the potential to affect wild populations through introduction of 
diseases or inappropriate genetic mixing;
    (6) Harming captive animals by, among other things, injuring or 
killing a captive animal, through experimental or potentially injurious 
care or conducting research or sexual breeding activities on captive 
animals, outside the bounds of normal animal husbandry practices. 
Captive sexual breeding of corals is considered potentially injurious. 
Furthermore, the production of coral progeny has conservation 
implications (both positive and negative) for wild populations. 
Experimental or potentially injurious care or procedures and research 
or sexual breeding activities of corals or dusky sea snakes may, 
depending on the circumstances, be authorized under an ESA 10(a)(1)(A) 
permit for scientific research or the enhancement of the propagation or 
survival of the species.

Identification of Those Activities That Would Not Constitute a 
Violation of Section 9 of the ESA

    We will identify, to the extent known at the time of the final 
rule, specific activities that will not be considered likely to result 
in a violation of section 9 of the ESA. Although not binding, we are 
considering the following actions, depending on the circumstances, as 
not being prohibited by ESA section 9:
    (1) Take authorized by, and carried out in accordance with the 
terms and conditions of, an ESA section 10(a)(1)(A) permit issued by 
NMFS for purposes of scientific research or the enhancement of the 
propagation or survival of the species;
    (2) Continued possession of parts that were in possession at the 
time of listing. Such parts may be non-commercially exported or 
imported; however the importer or exporter must be able to provide 
evidence to show that the parts meet the criteria of ESA section 
9(b)(1) (i.e., held in a controlled environment at the time of listing, 
in a non-commercial activity);
    (3) Continued possession of live corals or sea snakes that were in 
captivity or in a controlled environment (e.g., in aquaria) at the time 
of this listing, so long as the prohibitions under ESA section 9(a)(1) 
are not violated. Facilities must provide evidence that the animals 
were in captivity or in a controlled environment prior to listing. We 
suggest such facilities submit information to us on the animals in 
their possession (e.g., size, age, description of animals, and the 
source and date of acquisition) to establish their claim of possession 
(see For Further Information Contact);
    (4) Provision of care for live corals or sea snakes that were in 
captivity at the time of listing. These individuals are still protected 
under the ESA and may not be killed or injured, or otherwise harmed, 
and, therefore, must receive proper care. Normal care of captive 
animals necessarily entails handling or other manipulation of the 
animals, and we do not consider such activities to constitute take or 
harassment of the animals so long as adequate care, including 
veterinary care, when such practices, procedures, or provisions are not 
likely to result in injury, is provided; and
    (5) Any interstate and foreign commerce trade of animals already in 
captivity. Section 11(f) of the ESA gives NMFS authority to promulgate 
regulations that may be appropriate to enforce the ESA. NMFS may 
promulgate future regulations to regulate trade or holding of these 
species (if any), if necessary. NMFS will provide the public with the 
opportunity to comment on future proposed regulations.

Protective Regulations Under Section 4(d) of the ESA

    We are proposing to list Pterapogon kauderni, and Centrophorus 
harrissoni as threatened species. In the case of threatened species, 
ESA section 4(d) leaves it to the Secretary's discretion whether, and 
to what extent, to extend the section 9(a) ``take'' prohibitions to the 
species, and authorizes us to issue regulations necessary and advisable 
for the conservation of the species. Thus, we have flexibility under 
section 4(d) to tailor protective regulations, taking into account the 
effectiveness of available conservation measures. The 4(d) protective 
regulations may prohibit, with respect to threatened species, some or 
all of the acts which section 9(a) of the ESA prohibits with respect to 
endangered species. These 9(a) prohibitions apply to all individuals, 
organizations, and agencies subject to U.S. jurisdiction. We will 
consider potential protective regulations pursuant to section 4(d) for 
the proposed threatened species. For example, we may consider future 
regulations on trade of wild-caught Banggai cardinalfish (see number 7 
below). We seek public comment on potential 4(d) protective regulations 
(see below).

Public Comments Solicited

    To ensure that any final action resulting from this proposed rule 
to list six species will be as accurate and effective as possible, we 
are soliciting comments and information from the public, other 
concerned governmental

[[Page 74983]]

agencies, the scientific community, industry, and any other interested 
parties on information in the status review and proposed rule. Comments 
are encouraged on these proposals (See DATES and ADDRESSES). We must 
base our final determination on the best available scientific and 
commercial information when making listing determinations. We cannot, 
for example, consider the economic effects of a listing determination. 
Final promulgation of any regulation(s) on these species' listing 
proposals will take into consideration the comments and any additional 
information we receive, and such communications may lead to a final 
regulation that differs from this proposal or result in a withdrawal of 
this listing proposal. We particularly seek:
    (1) Information concerning the threats to any of the six species 
proposed for listing;
    (2) Taxonomic information on any of these species;
    (3) Biological information (life history, genetics, population 
connectivity, etc.) on any of these species;
    (4) Efforts being made to protect any of these species throughout 
their current ranges;
    (5) Information on the commercial trade of any of these species;
    (6) Historical and current distribution and abundance and trends 
for any of these species; and
    (7) Information relevant to potential ESA section 4(d) protective 
regulations for any of the proposed threatened species, especially the 
application, if any, of the ESA section 9 prohibitions on import, take, 
possession, receipt, and sale of the Banggai cardinalfish which is 
currently in international trade.
    We request that all information be accompanied by: (1) Supporting 
documentation, such as maps, bibliographic references, or reprints of 
pertinent publications; and (2) the submitter's name, address, and any 
association, institution, or business that the person represents.

Role of Peer Review

    In December 2004, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) issued 
a Final Information Quality Bulletin for Peer Review establishing a 
minimum peer review standard. Similarly, a joint NMFS/FWS policy (59 FR 
34270; July 1, 1994) requires us to solicit independent expert review 
from qualified specialists, concurrent with the public comment period. 
The intent of the peer review policy is to ensure that listings are 
based on the best scientific and commercial data available. We 
solicited peer review comments on each of the status review reports, 
including from: four scientists with expertise on sea snakes or the 
dusky sea snake specifically, five familiar with the Banggai 
cardinalfish, five familiar with Harrisson's dogfish, and ten 
scientists familiar with corals. For these species, we received 
comments from the scientists, and their comments are incorporated into 
the draft status review reports for each species and this 12-month 
finding.

Proposed Revisions to the NMFS Lists

    We propose to revise and add table subheadings to accommodate the 
proposed listings in our lists of threatened and endangered species at 
50 CFR 223.102 and 50 CFR 224.101, respectively. We propose to revise 
the subheading of ``Sea Turtles'' in both tables by changing the 
subheading to ``Reptiles.'' This new subheading will encompass all 
currently listed sea turtles as well as other marine reptiles like the 
dusky sea snake. In addition, we propose to add the subheading 
``Corals'' to our table at 50 CFR 224.101. This subheading has already 
been added to our table at 50 CFR 223.102 in a previous rulemaking (79 
FR 20802; April 14, 2014). These revisions and additions are not 
substantive changes, but having these headings will help the public 
identify and locate species of interest in a more efficient manner.

References

    A complete list of the references used in this proposed rule is 
available upon request (see ADDRESSES).

Classification

National Environmental Policy Act

    The 1982 amendments to the ESA, in section 4(b)(1)(A), restrict the 
information that may be considered when assessing species for listing. 
Based on this limitation of criteria for a listing decision and the 
opinion in Pacific Legal Foundation v. Andrus, 675 F. 2d 825 (6th Cir. 
1981), NMFS has concluded that ESA listing actions are not subject to 
the environmental assessment requirements of the National Environmental 
Policy Act (NEPA) (See NOAA Administrative Order 216-6).

Executive Order 12866, Regulatory Flexibility Act, and Paperwork 
Reduction Act

    As noted in the Conference Report on the 1982 amendments to the 
ESA, economic impacts cannot be considered when assessing the status of 
a species. Therefore, the economic analysis requirements of the 
Regulatory Flexibility Act are not applicable to the listing process. 
In addition, this proposed rule is exempt from review under Executive 
Order 12866. This proposed rule does not contain a collection-of-
information requirement for the purposes of the Paperwork Reduction 
Act.

Executive Order 13132, Federalism

    In accordance with E.O. 13132, we determined that this proposed 
rule does not have significant Federalism effects and that a Federalism 
assessment is not required. In keeping with the intent of the 
Administration and Congress to provide continuing and meaningful 
dialogue on issues of mutual state and Federal interest, this proposed 
rule will be given to the relevant governmental agencies in the 
countries in which the species occurs, and they will be invited to 
comment. We will confer with the U.S. Department of State to ensure 
appropriate notice is given to foreign nations within the range of all 
three species. As the process continues, we intend to continue engaging 
in informal and formal contacts with the U.S. State Department, giving 
careful consideration to all written and oral comments received.

List of Subjects in 50 CFR Parts 223 and 224

    Administrative practice and procedure, Endangered and threatened 
species, Exports, Imports, Reporting and record keeping requirements, 
Transportation.

    Dated: December 8, 2014.
Samuel D. Rauch, III.
Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine 
Fisheries Service.
    For the reasons set out in the preamble, 50 CFR parts 223 and 224 
are proposed to be amended as follows:

PART 223--THREATENED MARINE AND ANADROMOUS SPECIES

0
1. The authority citation for part 223 continues to read as follows:

    Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1531-1543; subpart B, Sec.  223.201-202 
also issued under 16 U.S.C. 1361 et seq.; 16 U.S.C. 5503(d) for 
Sec.  223.206(d)(9).

0
2. In Sec.  223.102, amend the table in paragraph (e) by:
0
A. Revising the table subheading of ``Sea Turtles \2\'' to ``Reptiles 
\2\''; and
0
B. Adding new entries for two species in alphabetical order under the 
``Fishes'' table subheading to read as follows:


Sec.  223.102  Enumeration of threatened marine and anadromous species.

* * * * *

[[Page 74984]]

    (e) The threatened species under the jurisdiction of the Secretary 
of Commerce are:

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                            Species \1\
--------------------------------------------------------------------  Citation(s) for     Critical
                                                    Description of        listing         habitat     ESA rules
          Common name            Scientific name     listed entity    determination(s)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 
                                                  * * * * * * *
         Reptiles \2\
 
                                                  * * * * * * *
            Fishes
Cardinalfish, Banggai.........  Pterapogon         Entire species..  Insert Federal              NA           NA
                                 kauderni.                            Register
                                                                      citation and
                                                                      date when
                                                                      published as a
                                                                      final rule].
 
                                                  * * * * * * *
Shark, Harrisson's dogfish....  Centrophorus       Entire species..  Insert Federal              NA           NA
                                 harrissoni.                          Register
                                                                      citation and
                                                                      date when
                                                                      published as a
                                                                      final rule].
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ Species includes taxonomic species, subspecies, distinct population segments (DPSs) (for a policy statement,
  see 61 FR 4722, February 7, 1996), and evolutionarily significant units (ESUs) (for a policy statement, see 56
  FR 58612, November 20, 1991).
\2\ Jurisdiction for sea turtles by the Department of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration,
  National Marine Fisheries Service, is limited to turtles while in the water.

PART 224--ENDANGERED MARINE AND ANADROMOUS SPECIES

0
3. The authority citation for part 224 continues to read as follows:

    Authority:  16 U.S.C. 1531-1543 and 16 U.S.C. 1361 et seq.

0
4. In Sec.  224.101, paragraph (h), amend the table by:
0
A. Revising the table subheading of ``Sea Turtles \2\'' to ``Reptiles 
\2\'';
0
B. Adding an entry for the dusky sea snake in alphabetical order under 
the new ``Reptiles \2\'' table subheading;
0
C. Adding a ``Corals'' table subheading to follow the ``Molluscs'' 
table subheading; and
0
D. Adding entries for three species of coral in alphabetical order by 
scientific name under the ``Corals'' table subheading to read as 
follows:


Sec.  224.101  Enumeration of endangered marine and anadromous species.

* * * * *
    (h) The endangered species under the jurisdiction of the Secretary 
of Commerce are:

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                            Species \1\
--------------------------------------------------------------------  Citation(s) for     Critical
                                                    Description of        listing         habitat     ESA rules
          Common name            Scientific name     listed entity    determination(s)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 
                                                  * * * * * * *
         Reptiles \2\
Sea snake, dusky..............  Aipysurus fuscus.  Entire species..  Insert Federal              NA           NA
                                                                      Register
                                                                      citation and
                                                                      date when
                                                                      published as a
                                                                      final rule].
 
                                                  * * * * * * *
           Molluscs
 
                                                  * * * * * * *
            Corals
Coral, [no common name].......  Cantharellus       Entire species..  Insert Federal              NA           NA
                                 noumeae.                             Register
                                                                      citation and
                                                                      date when
                                                                      published as a
                                                                      final rule].
Coral, [no common name].......  Siderastrea        Entire species..  Insert Federal              NA           NA
                                 glynni.                              Register
                                                                      citation and
                                                                      date when
                                                                      published as a
                                                                      final rule].
Coral, [no common name].......  Tubastraea         Entire species..  Insert Federal              NA           NA
                                 floreana.                            Register
                                                                      citation and
                                                                      date when
                                                                      published as a
                                                                      final rule].
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ Species includes taxonomic species, subspecies, distinct population segments (DPSs) (for a policy statement,
  see 61 FR 4722, February 7, 1996), and evolutionarily significant units (ESUs) (for a policy statement, see 56
  FR 58612, November 20, 1991).
\2\ Jurisdiction for sea turtles by the Department of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration,
  National Marine Fisheries Service, is limited to turtles while in the water.

* * * * *

[FR Doc. 2014-29203 Filed 12-15-14; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3510-22-P