[Federal Register Volume 80, Number 41 (Tuesday, March 3, 2015)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 11363-11379]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2015-04405]



[[Page 11363]]

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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

50 CFR Parts 223

[Docket No. 141219999-5133-01]
RIN 0648-XD681


Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Proposed Rule To 
List the Tanzanian DPS of African Coelacanth as Threatened 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 a comprehensive status review under 
the Endangered Species Act (ESA) for the African coelacanth (Latimeria 
chalumnae) in response to a petition to list that species. 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, L. chalumnae does not meet the definition of a threatened 
or endangered species when evaluated throughout all of its range. 
However, we determined that the Tanzanian population of the taxon 
represents a significant portion of the taxon's range, is threatened 
across that portion, and is a valid distinct population segment (DPS). 
Therefore, we propose to list the Tanzanian DPS of L. chalumnae as a 
threatened species under the ESA. We are not proposing to designate 
critical habitat for this DPS because the geographical areas occupied 
by the population are entirely outside U.S. jurisdiction, and we have 
not identified any unoccupied areas that are essential to the 
conservation of the DPS. We are soliciting comments on our proposal to 
list the Tanzanian DPS of the coelacanth as threatened under the ESA.

DATES: Comments on our proposed rule to list the coelacanth must be 
received by May 4, 2015. Public hearing requests must be made by April 
17, 2015.

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments on this document, identified by 
NOAA-NMFS-2015-0024, by either 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-2015-0024. Click the ``Comment Now'' icon, 
complete the required fields, and enter or attach your comments.
     Mail: Submit written comments to Chelsey Young, 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).
    You can obtain the petition, status review report, 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: Chelsey Young, NMFS, Office of 
Protected Resources (OPR), (301) 427-8491 or Marta Nammack, NMFS, OPR, 
(301) 427-8469.

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 one of those 27 species: The 
African coelacanth L. chalumnae. Findings for seven additional species 
can be found at 79 FR 74853 (December 16, 2014). The remaining 19 
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 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

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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. Thus, in our determinations, 
we may describe the foreseeable future in general or qualitative terms.
    NMFS and the USFWS recently published a policy to clarify the 
interpretation of the phrase ``significant portion of the range'' (SPR) 
in the ESA definitions of ``threatened'' and ``endangered'' (76 FR 
37577; July 01, 2014). The policy consists of the following four 
components:
    (1) If a species is found to be endangered or threatened in only an 
SPR, the entire species is listed as endangered or threatened, 
respectively, and the ESA's protections apply across the species' 
entire range.
    (2) A portion of the range of a species is ``significant'' if its 
contribution to the viability of the species is so important that 
without that portion, the species would be in danger of extinction or 
likely to become so in the foreseeable future.
    (3) The range of a species is considered to be the general 
geographical area within which that species can be found at the time 
USFWS or NMFS makes any particular status determination. This range 
includes those areas used throughout all or part of the species' life 
cycle, even if they are not used regularly (e.g., seasonal habitats). 
Lost historical range is relevant to the analysis of the status of the 
species, but it cannot constitute an SPR.
    (4) If a species is not endangered or threatened throughout all of 
its range but is endangered or threatened within an SPR, and the 
population in that significant portion is a valid DPS, we will list the 
DPS rather than the entire taxonomic species or subspecies.
    We considered this policy in evaluating whether to list the 
coelacanth as endangered or threatened under the ESA.
    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 (16 U.S.C. 1533(a)(1)). 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 (16 U.S.C. 1533(a)(1)).
    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 
across the range of the species. 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 improving the 
status of 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, as applicable, below. We re-assess the 
extinction risk of the species in light of the existing conservation 
efforts.
    If we determine that a species warrants listing as threatened or 
endangered, we publish a proposed rule in the Federal Register and seek 
public comment on the proposed listing.

Status Review

    We conducted a status review for the petitioned species addressed 
in this finding (Whittaker, 2014), which 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 finding. The draft status review report was also submitted to 
independent peer reviewers; comments and information received from peer 
reviewers were addressed and incorporated as appropriate before 
finalizing the draft report.
    The 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 should reasonably be expected to respond 
to the threats 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 report is available on our Web site (see 
ADDRESSES section). The following section describes our analysis of the 
status of the African coelacanth, L. chalumnae.

Species Description

    Latimeria chalumnae, a fish commonly known as the African 
coelacanth, belongs to a very old lineage of bony fish, the class 
Sarcopterygii or lobe-finned fishes, which includes the coelacanths, 
the lungfish, and very early tetrapods. Most species of lobe-finned 
fish are extinct. Among the lobe-finned fishes, L. chalumnae is one of 
only two living species belonging to the order Coelacanthiformes. The 
belief that the

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coelacanth had gone extinct over 65 million years ago made the 
discovery of a living specimen off the coast of South Africa in 1938 
particularly sensational (McAllister, 1971). Latimeria chalumnae 
inhabits coasts along the western Indian Ocean, while Latimeria 
menadoensis, commonly known as the Indonesian coelacanth, observed for 
the first time in 1997, appears to be restricted to Indonesian waters, 
but might also occur along the coastal islands in the eastern Indian 
Ocean (Erdmann et al., 1998; Erdmann, 1999; Springer, 1999; Fricke et 
al., 2000b, Hissman pers. com.). Latimeria chalumnae and L. menadoensis 
are genetically and geographically distinct (Pouyaud et al., 1999; 
Holder et al., 1999; Inoue, 2005). While genetically distinct, the 
Indonesian and African coelacanth species exhibit overlapping 
morphological traits, which makes it difficult to differentiate between 
them based on morphology alone.
    The coelacanth has a number of unique morphological features. Most 
obvious are its stalked dorsal, pelvic, anal, and caudal fins. In the 
water, under camera observation, the body of the fish appears 
iridescent dark blue, but its natural color is brown (Hissman pers. 
com.); individuals have white blotches on their bodies that have been 
used for identification in the field. When individuals die, their color 
shifts from blue to brown. The name ``coelacanth'' comes from the Greek 
words for `hollow' and `spine,' referring to the fish's hollow oil-
filled notochord, which supports the dorsal and ventral caudal fin rays 
(Balon et al., 1988). This notochord is composed of collagen which is 
stiffened under fluid pressure (Balon et al., 1988). Coelacanth species 
have a unique intracranial joint allowing them to simultaneously open 
the lower and upper jaws, possibly an adaptation for feeding (Balon et 
al., 1988). Coelacanths undergo osmoregulation via retention of urea 
(Griffith, 1991). Their swim bladder is filled with wax-esters used to 
passively regulate buoyancy, allowing the fish to reach depths of 700 
meters during nightly feeding excursions (Hissmann et al., 2000). Males 
and females exhibit sexual dimorphism in size, with females larger than 
males (Bruton et al., 1991b).
    The natural range of the African coelacanth L. chalumnae was once 
thought to be restricted to the Comoro Island Archipelago, located in 
the Western Indian Ocean between Madagascar and Mozambique. For many 
years, specimens caught off South Africa, Mozambique, and Madagascar 
were thought to be strays from the Comoro population (Schliewen et al., 
1993; Hissmann et al., 1998). However, between 1995 and 2001, catches 
and observations of coelacanths from the coasts of Kenya (De Vos et 
al., 2002), Tanzania (Benno et al., 2006), South Africa (Hissmann et 
al., 2006), and Madagascar (Heemstra et al., 1996) suggested that the 
species was more widespread than previously thought, occupying deep 
water coastal habitat in several locations throughout the Western 
Indian Ocean. The range extent of the coelacanth remains unclear, as 
direct observations of established populations rely on dedicated deep 
water canyon surveys, or bycatch observations from gillnets and 
artisanal handlines (Hissmann et al., 2006). Today, three established 
coelacanth populations have been confirmed by survey efforts, 
inhabiting deep-water caves off the coast of the Comoros, South Africa, 
and the coast of Tanzania.
    The coelacanth is known to inhabit waters deeper than 100m, making 
surveys difficult and reliant upon sophisticated technology including 
submersibles and remotely operated vehicles (ROVs), or highly-trained 
divers using special gas mixtures. To date, the best data addressing 
coelacanth habitat use come from in situ observations of the fish off 
the steep volcanic coasts of Grand Comoro Island; two decades of 
coelacanth observation there demonstrate that the coelacanth inhabits 
deep submarine caves and canyons which are thought to provide shelter 
from predation and ocean currents (Fricke et al., 2011). The fish 
aggregate in these caves in groups of up to 10 individuals. Retreat 
into these caves after nightly feeding activity is most likely a key 
factor for coelacanth survival, allowing the fish to rest and conserve 
energy in a deep-water, low-prey environment (Fricke et al., 1991a). At 
night, coelacanths occupy deeper waters to actively feed, spending the 
majority of their time between 200 and 300 m (Fricke et al., 1994; 
Hissmann et al., 2000). Larger individuals are known to venture below 
400 m, with the deepest observation at 698 m (Hissmann et al., 2000).
    South African coelacanth habitat has also been studied, although to 
a lesser extent than in the Comoro Islands (Venter et al., 2000; 
Hissmann et al., 2006; Roberts et al., 2006). In the deep canyons off 
the coast of South Africa, suitable coelacanth caves have been found at 
depths of 100-130 m, whereas at Grand Comoro Island, most caves are in 
depths of 180-230 m (Heemstra et al., 2006). In general, it is thought 
that the deep overhangs and caves found off the shelf of South Africa 
provide suitable shelter and refuge for coelacanths.
    Habitat off of Tanzania consists of rocky terraces occurring 
between 70-140 m depth; the water temperature at coelacanth catch 
depths is around 20 [deg]C (Nyandwi, 2009). A large number (n = 19) of 
Tanzanian coelacanths have been caught in the outer reefs near the 
village of Tanga. In this region, some coelacanth catches have been 
reported to occur at 50-60 m; however, the validity of these reports is 
questionable (Benno et al., 2006; Nyandwi, 2009, Hissman pers. com.). 
These incidents may indicate a shallower depth preference for Tanzanian 
coelacanths than that exhibited by Comoran coelacanths; however, more 
surveys are needed to better understand coelacanth habitat use in this 
region (Benno et al., 2006). The benthic substrate off the coast of 
Tanzania is sedimentary limestone rather than the volcanic rock of the 
Comoros. In this habitat, coelacanths are thought to use submarine 
cavities and shelves that have eroded out of the limestone composite 
for shelter.
    Coelacanths demonstrate strong site fidelity with relatively large 
overlapping home ranges, greater than 8 km, as demonstrated at Comoro 
and South African sites where expeditions have tracked individual 
movements using ultrasonic transmitters (Fricke et al., 1994; Heemstra 
et al., 2006). Surveys off Grand Comoro over 21 years demonstrate that 
individual coelacanths may inhabit the same network of caves for 
decades; for example, 17 individuals originally identified in 1989 were 
re-sighted in 2008 in the same survey area (Fricke et al., 2011).
    Temperature use for the Comoran coelacanth, based on survey 
observations, was found to be between 16.5 and 22.8 [deg]C (Fricke et 
al., 1991b). Surveys of South African coelacanth habitat off of Sodwana 
Bay confirm this temperature use across a broad portion of its range 
(Hissmann et al., 2006). This corresponds to estimates of thermal 
requirements based on the temperature-dependent oxygen saturation of 
their blood, with an optimum at 15 [deg]C and an upper threshold at 22-
23 [deg]C (Hughes et al., 1972). Thus, the coelacanth depends on cooler 
waters to help maintain its oxygen demands. Most likely, the depth 
distribution of coelacanth depends partly on this temperature 
requirement. The coelacanth's ecological niche is likely shaped by this 
narrow temperature requirement, prey abundance, and the need for 
shelter and oxygen.
    It is thought that sedimentation and siltation act as a negative 
influence on coelacanth distribution. This is supported by a hypothesis 
surrounding

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the split between the two living coelacanth species estimated to have 
occurred 40-30 million years ago (Mya), corresponding with the 
collision between India and Eurasia (50 Mya), which created high levels 
of siltation and isolated individuals to the east and west of India 
(Inoue et al., 2005). This hypothesis has been supported by some 
surveys off Sodwana Bay where it was observed that some canyons, 
despite offering suitable habitat requirements, were not occupied by 
coelacanths; it was concluded that the turbidity of the water in these 
caves discouraged coelacanth habitation, as nearby canyons not affected 
by turbidity were occupied by coelacanths (Hissmann et al., 2006; 
Roberts et al., 2006).
    Coelacanths are considered ovoviviparous, meaning the embryos are 
provided a yolk sac and develop inside the adult female until they are 
delivered as live births; coelacanth embryos are not surrounded by a 
solid shell. Embryos remain in gestation for 3 years; this period of 
embryogenesis has been determined by scale rings of embryo and newborn 
coelacanth specimens (Froese et al., 2000). The coelacanth gestation 
period is considered the longest of any vertebrate (Froese et al., 
2000). It has been hypothesized that the coelacanth may live upwards of 
40 or 50 years, and even up to 100 years (Bruton et al., 1991a, Fricke 
et al., 2011, Hissman per. com.). Coelacanth generation times are long. 
In fact, they are expected to reach reproductive maturity between 16 
and 19 years of age (Froese et al., 2000). Coelacanth fecundity is not 
well known; 26 embryos were found within one female caught in 2001 from 
off of Mozambique, and other known fecundities are 5, 19, and 23 pups 
(Fricke et al., 1992).
    Coelacanths are extremely slow drift-hunters. They descend at least 
50 to 100 m below their daytime habitat to feed at night on the bottom 
or near-bottom, and are thought to consume deep-water prey, or prey 
found at the bottom of the ocean (Uyeno et al., 1991; Fricke et al., 
1994). Stomach content analysis has revealed a variety of prey items 
including deepwater fishes ranging from cephalopods (including 
cuttlefish) to eels such as conger eels (Uyeno et al., 1991). The fish 
exhibits low-energy drift feeding behavior, which is thought to 
conserve energy and oxygen for the fish. Metabolic demands have been 
studied in the coelacanth, and demonstrate that they have one of the 
lowest resting metabolisms of all vertebrates (Hughes et al., 1972; 
Fricke et al., 2000a). The coelacanth's gill surface area is much 
smaller than other fishes of similar size; this morphological feature 
is a factor thought to heavily limit their growth rate and productivity 
due to its control over oxygen utilization (Froese et al., 2000). 
Studies of the fish's blood physiology have demonstrated that the 
oxygen dissociation curve is temperature dependent, and shows an 
affinity for oxygen at lower temperatures (15 [deg]C). Small gill 
surface area and blood physiology are thought to influence the 
coelacanth's restriction to cold deep water habitat, and may correlate 
with their low metabolic rates, meager food consumption and generally 
slow growth and maturation (Froese et al., 2000).

Population Abundance, Distribution, and Structure

    It was once thought that coelacanths were restricted to the Comoro 
Island Archipelago, and that individuals caught in other locations in 
the Western Indian Ocean were strays. However, growing evidence 
suggests that L. chalumnae consists of several established populations 
throughout the Western Indian Ocean (Schartl et al., 2005). Two 
resident and scientifically surveyed coelacanth populations exist in 
waters off South Africa and the Comoro Islands (Hissmann et al., 2006; 
Fricke et al., 2011). Increases in coelacanth catch off the coast of 
Tanzania during the last decade and genetic analysis of individuals 
caught there demonstrated that an established population exists there 
as well, as confirmed by the observance of 9 coelacanth individuals 
during a 2007 survey off the Tanzanian coast (Nikaido et al., 2011). 
Additional coelacanth catches have been recorded off Madagascar, 
Mozambique, and Kenya, but these regions have not yet been surveyed 
(Nulens et al., 2011) so their status is unclear. What is known of the 
coelacanth's distribution is largely based on bycatch data. Thus, the 
true number of established coelacanth populations, and the extent of 
the species' range across the Western Indian Ocean remain uncertain.
    Insufficient data exist to quantitatively estimate coelacanth 
population abundance or trends over time for the majority of its range. 
Population abundance estimates are greatly challenged by sampling and 
survey conditions wherein deep technical scuba or submersibles are 
necessary to reach and document the coelacanth in its natural habitat.
    Quantitative estimates of coelacanth abundance have been made only 
for the Comoro Islands. Coelacanth population abundance estimates for 
the western coastline of Grand Comoro were initially made in the late 
1980s by Fricke et al. (1991a) and updated to include survey data from 
1991 (Fricke et al., 1994). The survey area during this time covered 9 
percent of the projected coelacanth habitat along the western coast of 
Grand Comoro (Hissmann et al., 1998). These estimates showed a 
relatively stable population ranging between 230-650 individuals 
(Fricke et al., 1994). Surveys conducted in 1994 across the 
southwestern coast of Grand Comoro (the same sample area as in earlier 
surveys) revealed a 68 percent decrease in cave inhabitants and a 32 
percent decrease in the total number of coelacanths encountered as 
compared to a 1991 survey that covered the same area at the same time 
of year (Hissmann et al., 1998). Three additional surveys of the 
western coast of Grand Comoro occurred in the 2000s, and are summarized 
in Fricke et al. (2011). These survey methods and area were consistent 
with earlier surveys occurring in the late 1980s and 1990s. During 
surveys between 2000 and 2009, several marked individuals not sighted 
in 1994 re-appeared, and cave occupancy rates in these later surveys 
were similar to surveys of the early 1990s (Fricke et al., 2011). In 
total, nine dedicated coelacanth surveys have occurred in this area 
since 1986 (Fricke et al., 2011). Estimates of population abundance 
along the western coast of Grand Comoro, based on repeated surveys over 
almost 2 decades, are between 300 and 400 individuals, with 145 
individuals identifiable via unique markings (Fricke et al., 2011). The 
1994 survey showing population declines is thought to be an anomaly 
driven by higher water temperature, as later surveys demonstrate that 
the local population of western Grand Comoro has remained stable since 
the 1980s (Fricke et al., 2011). Some local Comoran fishermen have 
suggested that seasonal abundance patterns may exist for the coelacanth 
as they do for the locally-targeted oilfish, but there are insufficient 
data to address this phenomenon (Stobbs et al., 1991).
    Across the coelacanth's range, juveniles (<100 cm) are largely 
absent from survey and catch data, suggesting that earlier life stages 
may exhibit differences in distribution and habitat use (Fricke et al., 
2011). Length at birth is assumed to be 40 cm (Bruton et al., 1991a). 
Size classes between 40 and 100 cm are largely absent from surveys of 
the Comoros, South Africa, and Tanzania; these smaller sizes are also 
absent from shallower water, suggesting that they inhabit deeper water 
than older individuals (Fricke et al., 2011). In general, the 
distribution and relative

[[Page 11367]]

abundance of juveniles across the coelacanth's range remains unknown.
    Population estimates have not been conducted in other parts of the 
coelacanth's range, and it is possible that undiscovered populations 
exist across the Western Indian Ocean because coelacanths have been 
caught (in low numbers) off the coast of Madagascar, Kenya and 
Mozambique. Based on current understanding, coelacanth habitat and 
distribution is determined by the species' need for cool water and 
structurally complex caves and shelf overhangs for refuge. Using these 
requirements, Green et al. (2009) conducted a bathymetric survey using 
data coverage of the Western Indian Ocean in order to identify 
potential habitat for coelacanth populations, beyond occupied habitat 
already identified. The authors identified several locations off 
Mozambique and South Africa that met characteristics of coelacanth 
habitat. Lack of adequate data coverage for Tanzania and Madagascar 
precluded thorough analyses of these regions, so the authors did not 
rule out these locations as suitable coelacanth habitat. Although this 
bathymetric study did not lead to any additional surveys to confirm its 
findings, the analysis demonstrates the presence of suitable habitat 
throughout the Western Indian Ocean, and thus the potential for yet-
undiscovered coelacanth populations. Based on the data presented, 
populations that have been surveyed appear to be stable with unknown 
abundance and trends elsewhere.
    Genetic data on coelacanth population structure are limited and 
known distribution of coelacanth populations is potentially biased by 
targeted survey efforts and fishery catch data. However, recent whole-
genome sequencing and genetic data available for multiple coelacanth 
specimens can be used to cautiously infer some patterns of population 
structure and connectivity across the coelacanth's known range (Nikaido 
et al., 2011; Lampert et al., 2012; Nikaido et al., 2013). Currently, 
whole-genome sequences exist for multiple individuals from Tanzania, 
the Comoros, and from the Indonesian coelacanth L. menadoensis.
    Significant genetic divergence at the species level has been 
demonstrated to exist between L. chalumnae and L. menadoensis (Inoue et 
al. 2005) as described above.
    Intraspecific population structure has been examined using L. 
chalumnae specimens from Tanzania, the Comoros, and southern Africa 
(Nikaido et al., 2011; Lampert et al., 2012; Nikaido et al., 2013). 
These studies suggest that L. chalumnae comprises multiple independent 
populations distributed across the Western Indian Ocean. However, based 
on limited samples, the geographic patterns and relatedness among 
coelacanth populations are not well understood. Using mitochondrial DNA 
analyses, Nikaido et al. (2011) demonstrated that individuals from 
northern Tanzania differ from those from southern Tanzania and the 
Comoros. In fact, this study estimated that a northern Tanzanian 
population diverged from the rest of the species an estimated 200,000 
years ago. Nikaido et al. (2011) hypothesized that differentiation of 
individuals from northern Tanzania may relate to divergence of currents 
in this region, where hydrography limits gene flow and reduces the 
potential for drifting migrants. More recent data reflecting a greater 
number of samples and higher-resolution population analyses do not 
support a genetic break between individuals from north and south 
Tanzania. Instead, this more robust population-genetics approach 
reveals significant divergence among individuals from South Africa, 
Tanzania, and two populations which diverged but are co-existing within 
the Comoros; the mechanism of divergence between the two co-existing 
populations of the Comoros remains unclear (Lampert et al., 2012). All 
studies are consistent in that they demonstrate low absolute divergence 
among populations, which either relates to extremely low evolutionary 
rates in L. chalumnae, or recent divergence of populations after going 
through a bottleneck (such as a founding effect) (Lampert et al., 
2012). Information derived from unique sequences of mitochondrial DNA 
support the Comoros as an ancestral population to other populations 
distributed throughout the Western Indian Ocean, because this 
population appears to have a greater number of ancestral haplotypes 
(Nikaido et al., 2011).
    All coelacanth populations demonstrate the common characteristic of 
low diversity, but the Comoros population is the least diverse (Nikaido 
et al., 2011, Nikaido et al., 2013). Genetic evidence for inbreeding 
has been observed in investigations of coelacanth mitochondrial DNA and 
DNA fingerprinting, where high band-sharing coefficients showed 
significant inbreeding effects (Schartl et al., 2005). The species L. 
chalumnae exhibits significantly lower levels of genetic divergence 
than its sister species L. menadoensis (Nikaido et al., 2013). Because 
rates of molecular substitution and evolution are thought to be similar 
for these two species, the significantly lower diversity measures for 
L. chalumnae points to smaller populations (as compared to L. 
menadoensis) or the occurrence of repeated genetic bottlenecks, rather 
than slow evolution rate alone (Inoue et al., 2005, Nikaido et al., 
2013). Low diversity within populations and evidence for inbreeding 
suggest that populations are independent and small.
    While population structure is not clearly resolved across the 
region, available genetic data suggest the following: (1) Oceanographic 
and environmental conditions may cause uneven gene flow among 
coelacanth populations across the region; (2) populations across the 
Western Indian Ocean are independent, and do not represent strays from 
the Comoros, or a panmictic population (or a population in which all 
individuals are potential mates); (3) Evolutionary rates of coelacanths 
are extremely slow, and lower diversity in L. chalumnae as compared 
with L. menadoensis points to smaller population sizes and/or genetic 
bottleneck effects.

Summary of Factors Affecting the African Coelacanth

    Available information regarding current, historical, and potential 
threats to the coelacanth was thoroughly reviewed (Whittaker, 2014). 
Across the species' range, we found the threats to the species to be 
generally low, with isolated threats of overutilization through bycatch 
and habitat loss in portions of its range. Other possible threats 
include climate change, overutilization via the curio trade, and 
habitat degradation in the form of pollution; however, across the 
species' full range we classify these threats as low. 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 neither disease nor predation is operative 
threats on this species; therefore, we do not discuss those further 
here. See Whittaker (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

    There is no evidence curtailment of the historical range of L. 
chalumnae has occurred throughout its evolutionary history, either due 
to human interactions or natural forces. Genetic data and geological 
history suggest that

[[Page 11368]]

the split between L. chalumnae and its Indonesian sister species L. 
menadoensis occurred 40-30 Mya, and that the genus was previously 
distributed throughout the coasts of Africa and Eurasia (Springer, 
1999; Inoue et al., 2005). However, no data are available to inform an 
understanding of historical changes in the range of the species L. 
chalumnae. Although the order Coelacanthiformes was deemed to have 
become extinct 65 million years before the 1938 discovery in South 
Africa, this surprising encounter cannot be used as evidence for a 
curtailment of the species' range from historical levels given lack of 
any historical data on the species prior to its discovery. The species 
is naturally hidden from human observation, and therefore, highly 
technical diving, deep water survey equipment, or unique fishing 
techniques (such as hand lines) are required to reach the fish's 
cavernous, structurally complex, and deep habitat; thus, the 
contemporary and historical extent of its range remains unclear.
    Due to its occurrence in deep water (>100 meters), the coelacanth 
may be particularly buffered from human disturbance (Heemstra et al., 
2006). Nonetheless, increases in human population and development along 
the coastline of the Western Indian Ocean could impart long-term 
effects on the fish throughout its range. World human population 
forecasts predict that the largest percentage increase by 2050 will be 
in Africa, where the population is expected to at least double to 2.1 
billion (Kincaid, 2010). The result of increased population density on 
coastal ecosystems of East Africa may include increased pollution and 
siltation, which may impact the coelacanth despite its use of a deep 
and relatively stable environment.
    Human population growth will likely lead to increases in 
agricultural production, industrial development, and water use along 
the coast of the Western Indian Ocean; these land use changes may 
increase near shore sedimentation, possibly affecting coelacanth 
habitat. As described earlier, sedimentation is theorized to negatively 
impact coelacanth distribution (Springer, 1999). The coelacanth has 
been shown to avoid caves with turbid water, even if other preferred 
conditions of shelter and food are present (Hissmann et al., 2006). 
Many East African countries are still developing, and the population is 
growing. Increased food demand may lead to changes in land and water 
use, and an increase in agriculture and thus run-off and siltation to 
the coast. It is possible that, if increases in siltation occur, 
coelacanth habitat may be affected, and range reduced. However, the 
nature of these economic and land use changes, as well as their direct 
effect on sedimentation and subsequent impact on coelacanth habitat, 
remain highly uncertain.
    Pollution of coastal African waters does not currently pose a 
direct threat to the coelacanth. A review of heavy metals in aquatic 
ecosystems of Africa showed generally low concentrations, close to 
background levels, and much lower than more industrial regions of the 
world (Biney et al., 1994). Yet, surprisingly, a toxicological study of 
two coelacanth specimens detected lipophilic organochlorine pollutants 
such as polychlorinated biphenyl (PCBs) and 
dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT) (Hale et al., 1991). Levels 
ranged from 89 to 510 pg kg-\l\ for PCB and 210 to 840 pg 
kg-\l\ for DDT concentration, and were highest in lipid-rich 
tissues such as the swim bladder and liver (Hale et al., 1991). The 
coelacanth has high lipid content, and its trophic position may 
increase the probability of toxic bioaccumulation. Insufficient data 
are available to determine the impact of these toxins on coelacanth 
health and productivity.
    Direct habitat destruction is likely to impact coelacanths off the 
coast of Tanga, Tanzania. Plans are in place to build a new deep-sea 
port in Mwambani Bay, 8 km south of the original Tanga Port. The 
construction of the Mwambani port is part of a large project to develop 
an alternative sea route for Uganda and other land-locked countries 
that have been depending on the port of Mombasa. Development of the 
port would include submarine blasting and channel dredging and 
destruction of known coelacanth habitat in the vicinity of Yambe and 
Karange islands--the site of several of the Tanzanian coelacanth 
catches (Hamlin, 2014). The new port is scheduled to be built in the 
middle of a newly-implemented Tanga Coelacanth Marine Park. The plans 
for Mwambani Bay's deep-sea port construction appear to be ongoing, 
despite conservation concerns. If built, the port would likely disrupt 
coelacanth habitat by direct elimination of deep-water shelters, or by 
a large influx of siltation that would likely result in coelacanth 
displacement.
    Habitat destruction in the form of nearshore dynamite fishing on 
coral reefs may indirectly impact the coelacanth due to a reduction in 
prey availability, but these impacts are highly uncertain. As a 
restricted shallow-water activity, this destructive fishing would not 
impact the coelacanth's deep (+100 m) habitat directly. However, coral 
reefs in this region provide essential fish nursery habitat and are hot 
spots for biodiversity (Salm, 1983). Loss of nearshore coral habitat 
may negatively impact pelagic fish species due to loss of nursery 
habitat; it is highly uncertain how these impacts may affect the prey 
availability for the coelacanth. Dynamite fishing in the Comoros was 
observed recently by researchers (Fricke et al., 2011). While this 
method is not widespread throughout the Comoros, reduction in the 
sustainability of nearshore or pelagic fish populations may encourage 
fishermen to increase use of these new methods. Dynamite fishing in 
Tanzania is widespread, and has led to destruction of nearshore coral 
reefs and disruption of essential fish habitat (Wells, 2009). 
Destructive fishing practices occur throughout coral reefs along the 
coast of the Western Indian Ocean (Salm, 1983). The true extent to 
which the destruction of near shore coral habitat may affect the 
coelacanth remains uncertain, especially as the fish is thought to 
consume primarily deep-water prey (Uyeno, 1991; Uyeno et al., 1991).

Overutilization for Commercial, Recreational, Scientific, or 
Educational Purposes

Bycatch
    Since its discovery in 1938, all known coelacanth catches are 
considered to have been the result of bycatch. Particularly in the 
Comoro Islands, where the highest number of coelacanth catches has 
occurred, researchers have found no evidence of a targeted coelacanth 
fishery given that methods do not exist to directly catch the deep-
dwelling fish (Bruton et al., 1991c). The coelacanth meat is 
undesirable, and thus the fish is not consumed by humans (Fricke, 
1998).
    Out of 294 coelacanth catches since its 1939 discovery, the 
majority of catches (n = 215 as of 2011) have been a result of bycatch 
in the oilfish, or Revettus, artisanal fishery occurring only in the 
Comoro Island archipelago (Stobbs et al. 1991; Nulens et al. 2011). The 
Comoros oilfish fishery uses unmotorized outrigger canoes (locally 
called galawas). The fish are caught using handlines and hooks close to 
shore at depths as great as 800m (Stobbs et al., 1991). This 
traditional fishery is known locally as maz[eacute] fishing, and 
coelacanth catches have only occurred on Grand Comoro and Anjouan 
Islands (Stobbs et al., 1991). Oilfish are traditionally caught at 
night, an act considered locally to be very dangerous (Stobbs et al., 
1991). Often, this artisanal fishing is performed only on dark

[[Page 11369]]

moonless calm nights. In general, subsistence fishing in the region is 
limited by weather conditions, and often disrupted by monsoon or 
tropical storms. This fishery is also limited by a tradition of social 
pressure which restricts fishing to offshore waters adjacent to each 
fisherman's village (Stobbs et al., 1991).
    Since its discovery in the Comoros (in 1938), coelacanth catch rate 
has been very low, between 2-4 individuals per year. Coelacanth catch 
rate in the Comoros shows no significant trend over time; however, it 
has fluctuated historically with changes in fishing technology and 
shifts in the ratio between artisanal and more modern pelagic fishing 
methods (Stobbs et al., 1991; Plante et al., 1998). From a broader 
temporal perspective, there was an increasing but insignificant change 
in coelacanth catch from the Comoros from 1954 to 1995 (Plante et al., 
1998). However, between 1995 and 2008, the number of galawas in the 
Comoros has declined steadily, corresponding with a steady increase in 
motorized boats (Fricke et al., 2011). The most recent update of 
coelacanth catch inventory indicates that catch rates in the Comoro 
archipelago have declined and stabilized over the past decade (Nulens 
et al., 2011). In fact, between 2000 and 2008, catch rates were the 
lowest ever observed, likely due to the increase in motorized boats and 
decreased artisanal handline fishing over the past decade (Fricke et 
al., 2011). Today, maz[eacute] fishing is going out of favor in the 
Comoros (Plante et al., 1998; Fricke et al., 2011); this trend is 
expected to continue into the future, and reduces fishing pressure on 
the coelacanth in this region, most likely explaining the reduction in 
coelacanth catch over the past decade (Stobbs et al., 1991; Plante et 
al., 1998; Fricke et al., 2011; Nulens et al., 2011). Fishing mortality 
has been determined to be negligible in the Comoros population, likely 
relating to its population stability over time (Bruton et al., 1991a; 
Fricke et al., 2011).
    Outside of the Comoros, coelacanths have been caught in Tanzania, 
Madagascar, Mozambique, Kenya, and South Africa (Nulens et al., 2011). 
Historically, far fewer coelacanth catches have occurred outside of the 
Comoros Islands. However, over the past decade, the trend in coelacanth 
catches shows a drastic increase in catch rate off Tanzania via shark 
gillnets (Fricke et al., 2011; Nulens et al., 2011). Hand line 
maz[eacute] fisheries are absent outside of the Comoros, thus catches 
across the rest of the Western Indian Ocean have occurred using 
different gear--deep-set shark gillnets and trawls. Trawls have been 
the mechanism for only 3 total coelacanth catches; minimal catch 
through trawling is thought to relate to the coelacanth's preferred 
rocky steep cavernous habitat, substrate not suitable for trawling 
activity (Benno et al., 2006). The first confirmed coelacanth catches 
using shark gillnets occurred in Madagascar in 1995 and in Tanzania in 
2003, although a few earlier unconfirmed catches in these locations may 
have occurred as early as 1953 (Benno et al., 2006). The first 
Tanzanian catch in 2003 followed the introduction of shark gillnets in 
the region in 2001 (Benno et al., 2006). As of September 2003, the 
capture of coelacanths has been dominated by those caught in Tanzania 
(Nulens et al., 2011). Since the first 2003 catch in Tanzania, over 60 
catches via deep water gillnets have been reported, with over 12 fish 
caught/year between 2003 and 2008 (Benno et al., 2006; Nulens et al., 
2011). These shark gillnets are set at depths between 50 and 150m, and 
it is thought that accidental coelacanth catches in Tanzania occur when 
coelacanths leave their caves for nighttime hunting (Nyandwi, 2009).
    Expansion of the shark gillnet fishery across the Western Indian 
Ocean may result in increased bycatch of the coelacanth, as has been 
observed off the coast of Tanzania, but the potential for such an 
increase is uncertain. Available information suggests that shark 
fishing effort has been increasing off the coast of east Africa, 
including the coelacanth range countries of Mozambique, Madagascar, 
Kenya, and South Africa (Smale, 2008). Techniques for catching sharks 
in this region include deep-set shark gillnets, such as those 
responsible for the commencement of coelacanth bycatch in Tanzania in 
2003 (Nulins et al., 2011). Shark gillnet fishing is used in other East 
African countries, such as Mozambique, where these fisheries are highly 
profitable, and are driven by the demand for fin exports, with evidence 
for frequent illegal export occurring (Pierce et al., 2008). Despite 
the use of gillnet fishing practices elsewhere in East Africa, other 
areas have not shown a similar spike in coelacanth bycatch as has been 
observed in Tanzania. Quantification of effort from the shark gill net 
fishery in South Africa has been challenging due to high levels of 
illegal or unreported fishing occurring; for example, as little as 21 
percent of the actual catch for shark gillnet and seine fisheries may 
be reported in South Africa (Hutchings et al., 2002). Nonetheless, 
shark fisheries in this region are thought to be overexploited, which 
may lead to an increase in future effort due to sustained global demand 
(Hutchings et al., 2002). It is reasonable to conclude that the use of 
shark gillnets will continue or increase in Tanzania and will continue 
to expand throughout the Western Indian Ocean; however, whether this 
trend will result in an increased threat of coelacanth bycatch is 
uncertain, especially given the uncertainty over the fish's range and 
habitat use throughout the coast of East Africa.

Commercial Interest

    The coelacanth is not desirable commercially as a traditional food 
source or for artisanal handicrafts. Targeted methods of fishing the 
coelacanth have never been developed, and local cultures do not value 
the coelacanth commercially or for subsistence purposes (Fricke, 1998).
    In the Comoros, the coelacanth has become a source of pride and 
national heritage (Fricke, 1998). However, cultural interest in the 
coelacanth does not put the fish at risk, and on the contrary, may 
encourage its conservation. Commercial interest through tourism to the 
coelacanth's habitat is not a realistic threat either, as the deepwater 
habitat is largely inaccessible. In the 1980s there was a rumor that 
Japanese scientists were attempting to develop a new anti-aging serum 
using the coelacanth notochord oil. Although these claims made 
international headlines, the rumor has since been rejected. As Fricke 
pointed out (Fricke, 1998), the unsubstantiated rumor of the `fountain 
of youth' serum had an unexpected result of stirring publicity and 
conservation interest in the fish. Interest in the coelacanth notochord 
oil for medicinal purposes does not pose a threat to the species, as 
claims of its life extending properties are unsubstantiated.
    Interest in coelacanth specimens on the black market is a possible 
threat to the species. The concern mostly surrounds a curio trade 
rather than a potential aquarium trade. Because the fish is deep-water 
dependent, it survives for only a short period of time at the surface, 
and thus far, is not maintained in aquariums. Several attempts have 
been made to keep the coelacanth alive in captivity, but these attempts 
have demonstrated that the deep water fish is fragile and that it has 
been shown to survive at the surface for less than 10 hours (Hughes et 
al., 1972); the cause of death is thought to be a combination of 
capture stress and overheating resulting in asphyxiation. Comment 
threads found on the popular Web site Monster Fish Keepers, a forum for 
private aquarium and fish hobbyists, reveal

[[Page 11370]]

widespread knowledge of the coelacanth's fragility; these hobbyists 
express general understanding that the coelacanth's life can be 
sustained at surface depth no longer than a few hours (Hamlin, 1992; 
Monsterfish, 2007). Thus, black market trade of the coelacanth for 
private aquaria is not a realistic threat. However, the black-market 
curio trade may be a source of exploitation. The same fish hobbyist 
forums reveal general interest in the fish as a curio specimen, and 
willingness to pay large sums relative to the typical Comoran income 
for a dead specimen (Monsterfish, 2009). Thus, black market curio trade 
may provide an economic incentive for capture of the fish. However, we 
did not find data suggesting that a black market curio trade is 
currently active.

Scientific Interest

    Since discovery of the species in 1938, international scientists 
and researchers have cherished the coelacanth as the only 
representative of an important evolutionary branch in the tree of life. 
This has led to a long history of surveys to better understand the 
fish's ecology, habitat, distribution, and evolution. A tissue library 
from bycaught specimens is maintained at the Max Planck Institute in 
Germany, which provides the opportunity for scientific use of samples 
derived from these accidental coelacanth catches (Fricke, 1998). 
Coelacanth specimens have been used by more than 30 laboratories. In 
earlier years of coelacanth research, a reward of US$300-400 was 
offered to fishermen for each coelacanth caught (Fricke, 1998). 
However, those rewards have not been offered for decades. Prior to 
strict regulations on coelacanth trade, the global museum trade offered 
between US$400 and US$2000 for each specimen caught. Today, trade of 
the coelacanth is prohibited by the Convention on International Trade 
in Endangered Species (CITES) because the coelacanth is listed as an 
Appendix I species; however, some transfer of specimens for scientific 
study is permitted. We did not find any evidence that targeted 
coelacanth catch for scientific purposes is occurring. Thus, the demand 
for specimens for scientific research is not considered a threat.
    In the future, scientific interest and study may be used as a basis 
for the public display of the coelacanth. The public display of the 
fish would be of high commercial value, and efforts to keep the 
coelacanth in captivity have already been made. In the late 1980s and 
early 1990s, American and Japanese aquariums attempted to directly 
capture and bring the coelacanth into captivity (Suzuki et al., 1985; 
Hamlin, 1992). These attempts were not successful; it was determined 
that coelacanth cannot be directly caught, and that they only survive 
for a few hours outside of their deep water environments (Hamlin, 
1992). In the future, larger aquariums may pursue the use of 
pressurized tanks to keep the coelacanth alive in captivity, but their 
success is uncertain given the challenge of transporting a fish from 
its native habitat, and then maintaining it in an aquarium environment.

Other Natural or Manmade Factors Affecting Their Continued Existence

Climate Change
    Coelacanth habitat preference and distribution is dictated by 
specialized requirements for appropriate shelter (caves, caverns, and 
shelves), prey availability, and a combination of depth and temperature 
that meets the fish's need for oxygen (relating to optimal blood 
saturation at 15 [deg]C) (Hughes, 1972). Evidence from coelacanth 
habitation in South Africa is particularly useful in demonstrating the 
trade-offs among these important characteristics: There, coelacanths 
occupy depths of 100-140 m. The optimal temperature for the uptake of 
oxygen (15 [deg]C) occurs at lower depths of 200 m, where fewer caves 
exist. It is thought that the occupation of shallower depths is a 
trade-off between the need for shelter and optimal oxygen uptake; 
increases in oceanic temperature as is expected in connection with 
climate change may disrupt the tight balance between coelacanths' 
metabolic needs and the need for refuge (Roberts et al., 2006).
    Across the globe, ocean temperature is increasing at an accelerated 
rate (IPCC, 2013). The extent of this warming is reaching deeper and 
deeper waters (Abraham et al. 2013). Increase of global mean surface 
temperatures for 2081-2100 relative to 1986-2005 is projected to likely 
be in the ranges derived from the concentration-driven CMIP5 model 
simulations by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), 
that is, 0.3 [deg]C to 1.7 [deg]C (RCP2.6), 1.1 [deg]C to 2.6 [deg]C 
(RCP4.5), 1.4 [deg]C to 3.1 [deg]C (RCP6.0), or 2.6 [deg]C to 4.8 
[deg]C (RCP8.5) (IPCC, 2013). While these predictions relate to surface 
ocean temperatures, evidence from deep-water ocean measurements and 
models suggest that heat flux to the deep ocean has accelerated over 
the last decade (Abraham et al., 2013). If deep-water warming continues 
to keep pace with (or exceed the pace of) surface warming, even the 
most conservative IPCC scenarios may mean a warming of current 
coelacanth habitat.
    The coelacanth is typically observed at 15-20 [deg]C, with upper 
thermal preferences of 22-23 [deg]C (Hughes et al., 1972). The effect 
of these thermal boundaries on the coelacanth's distribution has been 
demonstrated by a 1994 survey of the Comoro Islands, which revealed a 
68 percent decrease in cave inhabitants and a 32 percent decrease in 
the total number of coelacanths encountered as compared to a 1991 
survey (Hissmann et al., 1998). Temperature is thought to have directly 
led to this decline in coelacanth observations; in 1994, temperature of 
the survey region was 25.1 [deg]C, the warmest ever recorded by 
researchers there (Hissmann et al., 1998). However, it is important to 
note that individually-identifiable coelacanths had returned to their 
previous habitat in subsequent surveys (Fricke et al., 2011); this 
suggests that the warm conditions in 1994 led to a displacement of 
coelacanth habitat, but did not lead to extirpation of that population, 
or a reduction in the population abundance. This information suggests 
that warming may impact coelacanth distribution, but there may be 
suitable habitat to accommodate a displacement of populations, where 
warming may not lead to decreases in population sizes or extirpation of 
populations. Despite deep water warming that has occurred over the last 
decade, the surveyed coelacanth population in the Comoros is described 
as stable, and not declining (Fricke et al., 2011).
    Based on the majority of climate model predictions, it is likely 
that current coelacanth habitat will reach temperatures exceeding the 
fish's thermal preferences by 2100 (IPCC, 2013). It is unlikely that 
the low-diversity fish with long generation times will physiologically 
adapt to withstand the metabolic stress of a warming ocean. However, 
the fish may be able to move to suitable habitat outside of its current 
range, thus adapting its range to avoid the warming deep water 
conditions. If the fish is displaced based on its need for cooler 
waters, but complex cave shelters are not available, local extirpation 
or range restriction may occur. However, currently, these impacts and 
responses are highly uncertain. Thus, it is reasonable to conclude that 
a warming ocean may impact the fish's distribution, but the impact of 
warming on the future viability of the species is uncertain. Due to the 
coelacanth's temperature-dependent oxygen demand, coupled with a highly 
specific need for deep structurally complex cave shelter, warming 
oceanic waters may pose a

[[Page 11371]]

threat to the coelacanth and displacement of populations, but the 
impact of this threat on the future viability of the species is highly 
uncertain, and climate change threats have not been clearly or 
mechanistically linked to any decline in coelacanth populations.

Inadequacy of Existing Regulatory Mechanisms

    CITES Appendix I regulates trade in species in order to reduce the 
threat international trade poses to those species. The coelacanth is 
included in CITES-Appendix I. Appendix I addresses those species deemed 
threatened with extinction by international trade. CITES prohibits 
international trade in specimens of these species except when the 
purpose of the import is not commercial, meets criteria for other types 
of permits, and can otherwise be legally done without affecting the 
sustainability of the population, for instance, for scientific 
research. In these exceptional cases, trade may take place provided it 
is authorized by the granting of both an import permit and an export 
permit (or re-export certificate). We found no evidence of illegal 
trade of the coelacanth. Trade is limited to the transfer of specimens 
for scientific purposes. There is no evidence that CITES regulations 
are inadequate to address known threats such that they are contributing 
to the extinction risk of the species.
    The coelacanth is also listed as Critically Endangered on the 
International Union for the Conservation of Nature's (IUCN) Red List. 
The IUCN is not a regulatory body, and thus the critically endangered 
listing does not impart any regulatory authority to conserve the 
species.
    The threat to the coelacanth stemming from anthropogenic climate 
change includes elevated ocean temperature reaching its deep-water 
habitat and resulting in decreased fitness or relocation of populations 
based on elimination of suitable habitat, which may become restricted 
due to the tight interaction between the coelacanth's thermal 
requirements and need for highly complex cave shelter and prey. Impacts 
of climate change on the marine environment are already being observed 
in the Indian Ocean and elsewhere (Hoerling et al., 2004; Melillo et 
al., 2014) and the most recent IPCC assessment provides a high degree 
of certainty that human sources of greenhouse gases are contributing to 
global climate change (IPCC, 2013). Countries have responded to climate 
change through various international and national mechanisms, including 
the Kyoto Protocol of 2007. Because climate change-related threats have 
not been clearly or mechanistically linked to decline of coelacanths, 
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 the effects of 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 coelacanth will be negatively 
impacted by climate change given the predictions of widespread ocean 
warming (IPCC, 2013).

Extinction Risk

    In general, demographic characteristics of the coelacanth make it 
particularly vulnerable to exploitation. While coelacanth abundance 
across its entire range is not well understood, it is likely that 
population sizes across the Western Indian Ocean are small, as 
described in Whittaker (2014). The likelihood of low abundance makes 
coelacanth populations more vulnerable to extinction by elevating the 
impact of stochastic events or chronic threats resulting in coelacanth 
mortality. Their growth rate and productivity is extremely limited. The 
coelacanth has one of the slowest metabolisms of any vertebrate, and 
this relates to their meager demand for food, slow swim speed and 
passive foraging, need for refuge to rest, and small gill surface area 
which limits their absorption of oxygen. In addition, their gestation 
period is longer than any vertebrate (3 years), although their 
fecundity is moderate. They are long-lived species, with long 
generation times. The extremely long gestation period and late maturity 
makes the coelacanth particularly vulnerable to external threats such 
as bycatch, possibly impeding recovery from mortality events (Froese et 
al., 2000). Genetic data suggest that the coelacanth comprises 
independent and isolated populations, originating in the Comoros, but 
fully established around the Western Indian Ocean. The small and 
isolated nature of coelacanth populations, only three of which are 
confirmed to exist, increases vulnerability by preventing their 
replacement and recovery from external threats and mortality events, 
and increases the potential for local extirpations. Finally, the 
species exhibits extremely low levels of diversity (Schartl et al., 
2005). Low levels of diversity reflect low adaptive and evolutionary 
potential, making the coelacanth particularly vulnerable to 
environmental change and episodic events. These events may reduce 
diversity further, and result in a significant change or loss of 
variation in life history characteristics (such as reproductive fitness 
and fecundity), morphology, behavior, or other adaptive 
characteristics. Due to their low diversity, coelacanth populations may 
be at an increased risk of random genetic drift and could experience 
the fixing of recessive detrimental genes that could further contribute 
to the species' extinction risk (Musick, 2011).
    While demographic factors increase the coelacanth's vulnerability, 
the status review classified the risk of threats across its range as 
low or very low (Whittaker, 2014). We found that, in general, the 
coelacanth is largely buffered from habitat impacts due to its 
occurrence in deep water. Thus, the threats of dynamite fishing, 
pollution, land-use changes, and sedimentation are considered low-risk. 
The direct loss of coelacanth habitat may occur if the deep port of 
Mwambami Bay is developed off the coast of Tanzania. However, whether 
plans to build this port will come to fruition remains uncertain, and 
the effects will impact a small portion of the coelacanth's range. The 
threat of port development does not represent a widespread threat to 
the species, and the port of Mwambami Bay is the only large coastal 
development project (that we found) that would directly impact the 
fish.
    As for impacts from overutilization, bycatch has historically been 
thought to pose the greatest threat to the coelacanth, but survey data 
show there is no observed link between coelacanth bycatch and 
population decline. A decade ago, the Comoros oilfish fishery was 
responsible for the highest rate of coelacanth bycatch. Historically, 
the Comoran fishery was responsible for catch rates of about 3 fish per 
year, and is not thought to have contributed to declines in population 
abundance. While the Comoran oilfish fishery has seen recent declines 
in effort and has never contributed to population decline of the 
coelacanth, a greater threat of bycatch has emerged in Tanzania over 
the last decade. As evidenced by high rates of coelacanth bycatch via 
the shark gillnet fishery, which began in 2001 in Tanzania, this 
fishing method has the potential to impact the coelacanth. Since 2003 
in Tanzania, coelacanth catch rates have been more than 3 times greater 
than ever observed in the Comoros, at over 10 fish per year. It is 
unclear whether this catch rate is

[[Page 11372]]

unsustainable due to limited information on trends and abundance of the 
Tanzanian population. While traditional Comoran handline fishing is no 
longer the most pressing bycatch threat to the fish, data suggest that 
the expansion of a shark gill net fishery throughout the Western Indian 
Ocean could result in additional coelacanth bycatch. The reduction of 
sustainable fisheries throughout the east African and South African 
coastline may encourage shifts to alternative fishing methods, such as 
gillnets, or trawling closer to shore, both of which could increase the 
probability of coelacanth bycatch. Bycatch in Tanzania is an ongoing 
threat, and potential for additional coelacanth bycatch across the 
fish's range poses a potential but uncertain threat to the fish's 
persistence into the foreseeable future. Coelacanth population 
abundance in Tanzania, and whether current bycatch rates are 
sustainable, is unknown. Thus, the risk of bycatch across the species' 
entire range is generally low. There is no real indication that 
overutilization for scientific purposes, public display, or the curio 
trade is occurring; thus we do not consider these factors as 
contributing a risk to the future persistence of the species across its 
range.
    Because threats are low across the species' range, we have no 
reason to consider regulatory measures inadequate in protecting the 
species.
    Regarding other natural or manmade factors, the threat of climate 
change via ocean warming may work synergistically to enhance all other 
threats to the coelacanth across its range, but the nature of these 
impacts is highly uncertain as described in Whittaker (2014). The 
extent of this impact on the coelacanth remains uncertain, and there 
has been no clear or mechanistic link between climate change or 
temperature warming and coelacanth population declines. Thus, the 
threat of climate change poses a low risk to the coelacanth.
    Overall, the fish's demographic factors make it particularly 
vulnerable to ongoing and future threats, but existing threats pose a 
generally low risk. Thus, we find that the coelacanth is at a low risk 
of extinction due to current and projected threats to the species.

Protective Efforts

    Since its discovery, much debate has surrounded the need to 
conserve the coelacanth, as an evolutionary relic and for its value to 
science. The long history of this debate was summarized by Bruton 
(1991). The international organization the Coelacanth Conservation 
Council (CCC) has been the primary body advocating for coelacanth 
conservation over the years since 1987.
    The CCC has its headquarters in Moroni, Comoros, and the 
Secretariat is currently in Grahamstown, South Africa with branches in 
Canada, the United Kingdom, the United States, Germany and Japan. The 
CCC has set forth general objectives of promoting coelacanth research 
and conservation, along with establishing an international registry of 
coelacanth researchers and the compilation of a coelacanth inventory 
and bibliography, which were published for the first time in 1991 and 
recently updated in 2011 (Bruton et al., 1991b; Nulens et al., 2011).
    Several conservation initiatives were implemented in the Comoros in 
the 1990s to reduce coelacanth bycatch. For instance, fishing 
aggregation devices were installed to encourage pelagic fishing and 
reduce pressure on the coelacanth from nearshore handline fishing. 
During this time, the use of motorized boats was encouraged for the 
same purpose, in order to direct fishing off-shore and reduce the use 
of artisanal handlines. Initially, there were some challenges, 
including lack of infrastructure preventing the repair of motors. 
However, the fishing trend today in the Comoros shows a clear shift to 
motorized pelagic fishing, and reduced interest in traditional handline 
fishing; this trend is occurring due to a natural shift in social 
perspectives and local economic trends.
    A supporter of coelacanth conservation and member of the U.S. 
Explorer Club, Jerome Hamlin, author and curator of the Web site 
DINOFISH.com, has encouraged the use of a `Deep Release Kit' for 
coelacanth conservation when bycaught. The Deep Release Kit was created 
in response to the `Save the Coelacanth Contest' sponsored by 
DINOFISH.com (Hamlin, 2014). The kit consists of a barbless hook 
attached to a sack. The fisherman puts some of his sinker stones in the 
sack, places the hook in the lower jaw of the fish he has just caught 
with the shank pointing down to the sack, and releases the fish to the 
bottom where it frees itself. The purpose of the Deep Release procedure 
is to get the fish quickly to the cold bottom water with no further 
exertion on its part. A surface release (in theory) leaves the fish 
without the strength to get back down to depth. Hundreds of these 
devices have been distributed in the Comoros and Tanzania. These kits 
are some of the only direct coelacanth conservation measures in the 
Comoros or Tanzania. Yet, it is unclear whether these have been used at 
sea, their success is unproven, and it is unknown whether the method 
has been adopted by local fishermen.
    Ongoing scientific research on the coelacanth may play a role in 
coelacanth conservation, as management of the species can improve with 
a more complete understanding of its biology and natural history. In 
2002, South Africa instituted its African Coelacanth Ecosystem 
Programme, which has coordinated an extensive array of research 
including bathymetric surveys, taxonomic studies, and observational 
expeditions. This program is funded by the Global Environment Facility 
of the World Bank and it is in its third phase, taking an ecosystem-
based approach to understanding coelacanth distribution and habitat 
utilization across the Western Indian Ocean, and providing deep-water 
research tools and resources for this research.
    Local efforts for marine conservation exist in the Comoros. For 
example, the Moh[eacute]li Marine Park takes a co-management approach 
to stop some destructive fishing and conserve marine habitat using a 
series of no-take reserves. The park encompasses 212 km\2\, and was set 
up during a 5-year biodiversity conservation project which began in 
1998, funded by the World Bank's Global Environment Facility; the goals 
of the project were to address the loss of biodiversity in Comoros and 
develop local capacity for natural resource management (Granek et al., 
2005). However, no alternative revenue-generating activities have been 
provided, making life difficult for some fishermen. The World Bank's 
Global Environment Facility biodiversity management project in the Park 
ended in 2003, and there has been no source of additional financing to 
continue the resource co-management. The Moheli Park has brought 
together some key institutions to encourage sustainable management and 
monitoring of marine habitat of the Comoros; however, specific laws 
have not been enacted, and existing legislation has not been enforced 
(Ahamada et al., 2002). No coelacanths have ever been caught off the 
island of Moheli, so the park's impact on bycatch of the species is not 
applicable.
    Other conservation efforts in the form of marine parks distributed 
throughout the Western Indian Ocean may benefit the coelacanth by 
reducing habitat destruction and improving prey availability; however, 
the direct impacts of these conservation efforts on the species is 
difficult to evaluate. Efforts to

[[Page 11373]]

improve marine resource management and conservation in developing 
nations of east Africa have increased in the past decade. Today, 8.7 
percent of the continental shelf in Kenya, 8.1 percent in Tanzania, and 
4.0 percent in Mozambique have been designated as marine protected 
areas (Wells et al., 2007). Many of these parks intersect with known 
coelacanth habitat, or are in range countries where coelacanths have 
been caught and potential populations exist. However, in many areas, 
ongoing socioeconomic challenges have precluded effective management of 
these regions (Francis et al., 2002). Analysis of east African Marine 
Protected Area (MPA) management has demonstrated that socio-economic 
barriers make it more difficult to reach conservation goals (Tobey et 
al., 2006). Because of this, much effort has gone into creating 
community-based conservation planning in recent years (e.g., Harrison 
(2010)). Management constraints still remain. First, there are large 
gaps in ecosystem knowledge surrounding these marine parks; for 
instance, many vital habitats and species are not yet fully represented 
by MPAs in place today (Wells et al., 2007). Next, monitoring is not 
widely implemented and data are not available to determine whether 
biodiversity or socio-economic goals are being met (Wells et al., 
2007).
    A new marine park in Tanga, Tanzania has been put in place, and was 
prompted by increases in coelacanth catch in the region. The Tanga 
Coelacanth Marine Park is located on the northern coastline of 
Tanzania, extending north of the Pangani River estuary 100 km along the 
coastline towards Mafuriko village just north of Tanga city. The park 
covers an area of 552 km\2\, of which 85 km\2\ are terrestrial and 467 
km\2\ are marine. The plans for the park were announced in 2009, and a 
general management plan published in 2011 (Parks; MPRU, 2011). The goal 
of the Tanga Coelacanth Marine Park is to conserve marine biodiversity, 
resource abundance, and ecosystem functions of the Park, including the 
coelacanth and its habitat; and enable sustainable livelihoods and full 
participation of local community users and other key stakeholders. The 
plans for the park, specific to the coelacanth, are to restrict fishing 
within its boundaries, including fishing with deep-set shark gillnets, 
the primary source of coelacanth bycatch in the area. Additional 
restrictions against destructive fishing and development practices have 
been set forth in the park's 2011 general management plan (MPRU, 2011). 
Partnership and guidance from the IUCN has encouraged plans for 
community-based and adaptive park management (Harrison, 2010).
    Applying the considerations mandated by our PECE policy, we 
determine that the implementation and enforcement of the park's 
regulations and goals are unclear and untested; further, there are 
several reasons to believe that infrastructure, funding, and park 
management may not be adequate to fully prevent coelacanth bycatch 
within the park's boundaries: For one, illegal fishing off the coast of 
Tanzania is high (Tobey et al., 2006; Hempson, 2008; Wells, 2009). 
Widespread poverty and other regional socio-economic challenges in the 
region have reduced the effectiveness and implementation of other east 
African marine parks, and it is likely that the Tanga Coelacanth Marine 
Park will face similar challenges (Toby, 2006; Wells, 2012). Although 
recommendations and goals are set in place to increase tourism to the 
Park as an economic offset for stricter fishing regulations, the 
economic infrastructure and incentives needed for this shift are not in 
place or have not yet been proven to be effective. Next, there are 
plans to build a new deep-sea port in Mwambani Bay, just 8 km south of 
the original old Tanga Port, which would include submarine blasting and 
channel dredging and destruction of known coelacanth habitat in the 
vicinity of Yambe and Karange islands--the site of several of the 
Tanzanian coelacanth catches. The new port is scheduled to be built in 
the middle of the Tanga Coelacanth Marine Park. The construction of 
Mwambani port is part of a large project to develop an alternative sea 
route for Uganda and other land-locked countries which have been 
depending on the port of Mombasa. The plans for Mwambani Bay's deep-sea 
port construction appear to be ongoing, despite conservation concerns. 
It is unclear whether this port will be built, but its presence would 
negate many of the benefits (even now, unproven) of the Park. The 
general management plan for the park will be fully evaluated every 10 
years, with a mid-term review every 5 years. The effectiveness of Tanga 
Coelacanth Marine Park is not yet known, and for reasons described 
above, we do not consider this park to provide certain conservation 
measures that would alleviate extinction risk to the species.

Significant Portion of Its Range Analysis

    As noted above, we find that the species is at a low risk of 
extinction throughout its range. In other words, our range-wide 
analysis for the species does not lead us to conclude that the species 
meets the definition for either an endangered species or a threatened 
species based on the rangewide analysis. Thus, under the final 
Significant Portion of Its Range (SPR) policy announced in July 2014, 
we must go on to consider whether the species may have a higher risk of 
extinction in a significant portion of its range (79 FR 37577; July 1, 
2014).
    The final policy explains that it is necessary to fully evaluate a 
portion for potential listing under the ``significant portion of its 
range'' authority only if information indicates that the members of the 
species in a particular area are likely both to meet the test for 
biological significance and to be currently endangered or threatened in 
that area. Making this preliminary determination triggers a need for 
further review, but does not prejudge whether the portion actually 
meets these standards such that the species should be listed:

    To identify only those portions that warrant further 
consideration, we will determine whether there is substantial 
information indicating that (1) the portions may be significant and 
(2) the species may be in danger of extinction in those portions or 
likely to become so within the foreseeable future. We emphasize that 
answering these questions in the affirmative is not a determination 
that the species is endangered or threatened throughout a 
significant portion of its range--rather, it is a step in 
determining whether a more detailed analysis of the issue is 
required.

79 FR 37586.
    Thus, the preliminary determination that a portion may be both 
significant and endangered or threatened merely requires NMFS to engage 
in a more detailed analysis to determine whether the standards are 
actually met (Id. at 37587). Unless both are met, listing is not 
warranted. The policy further explains that, depending on the 
particular facts of each situation, NMFS may find it is more efficient 
to address the significance issue first, but in other cases it will 
make more sense to examine the status of the species in the potentially 
significant portions first. Whichever question is asked first, an 
affirmative answer is required to proceed to the second question. Id. 
(``[I]f we determine that a portion of the range is not 
``significant,'' we will not need to determine whether the species is 
endangered or threatened there; if we determine that the species is not 
endangered or threatened in a portion of its range, we will not need to 
determine if that portion was ``significant.''). Thus, if the answer to 
the first question is negative--whether that regards the significance 
question or the status

[[Page 11374]]

question--then the analysis concludes and listing is not warranted.
    After a review of the best available information, we identified the 
Tanzanian population of the African coelacanth as a population facing 
concentrated threats because of increased catch rates in this region 
since 2003, and the threat of a deep-water port directly impacting 
coelacanth habitat in this region. Due to these concentrated threats, 
we found that the species may be at risk of extinction in this area. 
Under the policy, if we believe this population also may constitute a 
``significant'' portion of the range of the African coelacanth, then we 
must go on to a more definitive analysis. We may either evaluate the 
extinction risk of this population first to determine whether it is 
threatened or endangered in that portion or first determine if it is in 
fact ``significant.'' Ultimately, of course, both tests have to be met 
to qualify the species for listing.
    We proceeded to evaluate whether this population represents a 
significant portion of the range of the African coelacanth. The 
Tanzanian population is one of only three confirmed populations of the 
African coelacanth, all considered to be small and isolated. Because 
all three populations are isolated, the loss of one would not directly 
impact the other remaining populations. However, loss of any one of the 
three known coelacanth populations would significantly increase the 
extinction risk of the species as a whole, as only two small 
populations would remain, making them more vulnerable to catastrophic 
events such as storms, disease, or temperature anomalies. Tanzanian and 
Comoran populations are approximately 1,000 km apart, ocean currents 
are thought to have led to their divergence over 200,000 years ago, and 
connectivity between them is not thought to be maintained (Nikiado et 
al., 2011). The South African population is separated from the Comoran 
and Tanzanian populations by hundreds of miles. The Tanzanian 
population exhibits the greatest genetic divergence from the other 
populations, suggesting that it may be the most reproductively isolated 
among them (Lampert et al., 2012). Potential catastrophic events such 
as storms or significant temperature changes may affect the Comoran and 
Tanzanian populations simultaneously, due to their closer geographic 
proximity. The South African population, while not as genetically 
isolated, may experience isolated catastrophic events due to its 
geographic isolation. This reasoning supports our conclusion that the 
Tanzanian population comprises a significant portion of the range of 
the species because this portion's contribution to the viability of the 
African coelacanth is so important that, without the members in this 
portion, the African coelacanth would be likely to become in danger of 
extinction within the foreseeable future, throughout all of its range.
    Because the Tanzanian population of the coelacanth was determined 
to represent a significant portion of the range of the species, we 
performed an extinction risk assessment on the Tanzanian population by 
evaluating how the demographic factors (abundance, productivity/growth 
rate, spatial structure/connectivity, and diversity) of the species 
would be impacted by the ESA section 4(a)(1) factors, considering only 
those factors affecting the Tanzanian population.
    Coelacanth abundance across its entire range is not well 
understood, and no abundance estimates exist for the Tanzanian 
population. Based on general knowledge of the African coelacanth, the 
Tanzanian population is likely associated with very restricted and 
specific habitat requirements and low growth rates. We conclude that it 
is likely that the population size of the Tanzanian population is small 
for the same reasons described above for the species as a whole: It 
exhibits low levels of diversity (Nikaido et al., 2013), long 
generation times, and restricted habitat (Hissmann et al., 2006; Fricke 
et al., 2011). The likelihood of low abundance makes the Tanzanian 
population more vulnerable to extinction by elevating the impact of 
stochastic events or chronic threats resulting in coelacanth mortality.
    Growth rate and productivity for the Tanzanian population is 
thought to exhibit similar characteristics to other populations of the 
species. The species as a whole has one of the slowest metabolisms of 
any vertebrate. The extremely long gestation period and late maturity 
makes the Tanzanian population particularly vulnerable to external 
threats such as bycatch, possibly impeding recovery from mortality 
events (Froese et al., 2000).
    The Tanzanian population is thought to represent a single isolated 
population of the species. It has been estimated that this population 
diverged from the rest of the species 200,000 years ago (Nikaido et 
al., 2011). Differentiation of individuals from the Tanzanian 
population may relate to divergence of currents in this region, where 
hydrography limits gene flow and reduces the potential for drifting 
migrants. The isolated nature of the Tanzanian population lowers the 
potential for its recovery from external threats; the population is not 
thought to maintain connectivity with other populations, and thus has 
no source for replacement of individuals lost outside of its own 
reproductive processes. Fast-moving currents along the Eastern coast of 
Africa are thought to prevent connectivity among populations in the 
region (Nikaido et al., 2011). This may be particularly true for 
Tanzania. We consider current evidence for the Tanzanian population's 
high isolation from the rest of the species to contribute to a moderate 
risk of extinction, as these are natural factors (relevant under 
section 4(a)(1)(E)) that may increase vulnerability of this population 
by preventing its replacement and recovery from external threats and 
mortality events, and increase the potential for extinction.
    Genomic analyses of individuals from the Tanzanian population and 
other representatives of the species reveal that divergence and 
diversity within and among populations is very low (Nikaido et al., 
2013). Low levels of diversity reflect low adaptive and evolutionary 
potential, making the Tanzanian population particularly vulnerable to 
environmental change and episodic events. These events may reduce 
diversity further, and result in a significant change or loss of 
variation in life history characteristics (such as reproductive fitness 
and fecundity), morphology, behavior, or other adaptive 
characteristics. Due to the Tanzanian population's low diversity, this 
population may be at an increased risk of random genetic drift and 
could experience the fixing of recessive detrimental genes that could 
further contribute to the species' extinction risk (Musick, 2011).
    Regarding habitat threats to the Tanzanian population, loss and 
degradation of coelacanth habitat can take the form of pollution, 
dynamite fishing, sedimentation, and direct loss through development. 
Future human population growth and land use changes off the coast of 
Tanzania increase these threats to the Tanzanian population, but their 
trends and impacts are highly uncertain. In general, the coelacanth is 
largely buffered from habitat impacts due to its occurrence in deep 
water, and general effects of pollution and development are similar to 
those described for the rest of the species. However, specifically 
related to the Tanzanian population, direct loss of habitat is likely 
to occur if the deep port of Mwambami Bay is developed. The port is 
planned to be built just 8 km south of the original old Tanga Port, and 
this would include submarine blasting and channel dredging and 
destruction of

[[Page 11375]]

known coelacanth habitat in the vicinity of Yambe and Karange islands--
the site of several of the Tanzanian coelacanth catches. The new port 
is scheduled to be built in the middle of the Tanga Coelacanth Marine 
Park. The construction of Mwambani port is part of a large project to 
develop an alternative sea route for Uganda and other land-locked 
countries that have been depending on the port of Mombasa. The plans 
for Mwambani Bay's deep-sea port construction appear to be ongoing, 
despite conservation concerns, and thus it is reasonable to conclude 
that it poses a likely threat to the species. Whether plans to build 
this port will come to fruition remains uncertain, but if built, the 
deep port could significantly impact the Tanzanian population of 
coelacanths by destroying habitat directly. For the Tanzanian 
population, the construction of this deep-water port could be 
catastrophic, and it is clear that the boundaries of the new Tanga 
Marine Park are insufficient in halting plans for the port's 
development.
    As for impacts from overutilization, bycatch has historically been 
thought to pose the greatest threat to the coelacanth. While survey 
data from the Comoros show there is no observed link between coelacanth 
bycatch and population decline, since 2003 in Tanzania, coelacanth 
catch rates have been more than 3 times greater than ever observed in 
the Comoros, at over 10 fish per year. It is unclear whether this catch 
rate is sustainable due to limited information on trends and abundance 
of the Tanzanian population. The further expansion of a shark gill net 
fishery in Tanzania, as has been observed over the last decade, could 
result in additional coelacanth bycatch. Bycatch in Tanzania is an 
ongoing threat. While direct data assessing Tanzanian coelacanth 
population decline are not available, the relatively high and 
persistent catch rate in this region has the potential to deplete this 
small and isolated population, which has life history characteristics 
that greatly impede its recovery and resiliency to mortality.
    We consider the threat of overutilization for scientific purposes, 
public display, or for the curio trade as low for reasons described 
above, as they apply to the rest of the species.
    We consider the threat of inadequate regulatory mechanisms as low 
for the Tanzanian population for the same reasons described above for 
the rest of the species. Additionally, we classify the risk of climate 
change as low for the Tanzanian population for the same reasons 
described above for the rest of the species.
    Overall, the Tanzanian population's demographic factors make it 
particularly vulnerable to ongoing and future threats, which pose a 
moderate risk to the species. Based on the best available information, 
threats of bycatch to the Tanzanian population appear to be persistent, 
and the potential development of a deep port within this population's 
habitat could be catastrophic to the population in the foreseeable 
future. Thus, we find that the Tanzanian population is at a moderate 
risk of extinction due to current and projected threats.
    Therefore, we conclude that the Tanzanian population is at moderate 
risk of extinction in a significant portion of the African coelacanth's 
range of the species.

Distinct Population Segment Analysis

    In accordance with the SPR policy, if a species is determined to be 
threatened or endangered in a significant portion of its range, and the 
population in that significant portion is a valid DPS, we will list the 
DPS rather than the entire taxonomic species or subspecies. Because the 
Tanzanian population represents a significant portion of the range of 
the species, and this population is at a moderate risk of extinction, 
we performed a DPS analysis on that population.
    As defined in the ESA (Sec. 3(15)), a ``species'' includes 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. The joint NMFS-U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) 
policy on identifying distinct population segments (DPS) (61 FR 4722; 
February 7, 1996) identifies two criteria for DPS designations: (1) The 
population must be discrete in relation to the remainder of the taxon 
(species or subspecies) to which it belongs; and (2) the population 
must be ``significant'' (as that term is used in the context of the DPS 
policy, which is different from its usage under the SPR policy) to the 
remainder of the taxon to which it belongs.
    Discreteness: 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).
    Significance: If a population segment is found to be discrete under 
one or both of the above conditions, then its biological and ecological 
significance to the taxon to which it belongs is evaluated. This 
consideration may include, but is not limited to: (1) ``Persistence of 
the discrete population segment in an ecological setting unusual or 
unique for the taxon; (2) evidence that the loss of the discrete 
population segment would result in a significant gap in the range of a 
taxon; (3) evidence that the discrete population segment represents the 
only surviving natural occurrence of a taxon that may be more abundant 
elsewhere as an introduced population outside its historic range; and 
(4) evidence that the discrete population segment differs markedly from 
other populations of the species in its genetic characteristics'' (61 
FR 4722; February 7, 1996).

Discreteness

    The Tanzanian population cannot be differentiated from other 
populations based on its morphology. In fact, no coelacanth population 
exhibits significant distinguishing morphological characteristics, and 
morphological differences within the Latimeria genus as a whole have 
been debated (Pouyad et al., 1999, Holder et al., 1999; Erdmann et al., 
1999). No unique behavioral, physical, or ecological characteristics 
have been identified for the Tanzanian population to set it apart from 
the rest of the taxon. Only a single dedicated survey of the Tanzanian 
population is available; thus, future surveys may reveal distinguishing 
ecological features of the population.
    As stated above, genetic data on coelacanth population structure 
are limited and known distribution of coelacanth populations is 
potentially biased by targeted survey efforts and fishery catch data. 
However, recent whole-genome sequencing and genetic data available for 
multiple coelacanth specimens can be used to cautiously infer some 
patterns of population structure and connectivity across the 
coelacanth's known range (Nikaido et al., 2011; Lampert et al., 2012; 
Nikaido et al., 2013). Intraspecific population structure has been 
examined using L. chalumnae specimens from Tanzania, the Comoros, and 
southern Africa (Nikaido et al., 2011; Lampert et al., 2012; Nikaido et 
al., 2013). These

[[Page 11376]]

studies suggest that L. chalumnae comprises multiple isolated and 
reproductively independent populations distributed across the Western 
Indian Ocean, only three which have been confirmed (inhabiting waters 
off of Tanzania, the Comoros, and South Africa).
    While population structure of the taxon, described earlier, is not 
fully resolved, all genetic data available suggest that the Tanzanian 
population represents a single isolated population of the species. 
Multiple genetic studies corroborate a significant divergence between 
Tanzanian individuals, and individuals from the South African and 
Comoros populations (Nikaido et al.; 2011, Lampert et al., 2012). This 
includes evidence from both nuclear and mitochondrial DNA (Nikaido et 
al., 2011, Lampert et al., 2012, Nikaido et al., 2013). The Tanzanian 
population is the most diverged of all coelacanth populations (Lampert 
et al., 2012). Differentiation of individuals from the Tanzanian 
population may relate to divergence of currents in this region, where 
hydrography limits gene flow and reduces the potential for drifting 
migrants (Nikaido et al., 2011). All available data suggest that the 
Tanzanian population does not likely maintain connectivity with other 
populations, and likely has no source for replacement of individuals 
outside of its own reproductive processes.
    The Tanzanian population is geographically isolated from the 
Comoran and South African populations. The Tanzanian population is 
approximately 1,000 km away from the Comoran population and over 4,000 
km away from the South African population, with oceanic currents 
further reducing their potential for connectivity. While it is thought 
that the Comoran population is the source of other populations along 
the Western Indian Ocean, the Tanzanian and South African populations 
may have been established as many as 200,000 years ago, as genetic data 
suggest (Nikaido et al., 2011).
    Based on genetic evidence, and the clear geographic isolation of 
the Tanzanian population, we determined that the Tanzanian population 
of L. chalumnae is discrete from other populations within the species.

Significance

    The Tanzanian population does not persist in an ecological setting 
unusual or unique for the taxon. Although the Tanzanian individuals are 
thought to inhabit limestone ledges rather than volcanic caves where 
Comoran and South African individuals are found, the depth, prey, 
temperature, and shelter requirements are remarkably similar among the 
known coelacanth populations (Hissman et al., 2006). We found no 
evidence to suggest that differences in the ecological setting of the 
Tanzanian population have led to any adaptive or behavioral 
characteristics that set the population apart from the rest of the 
taxon, or contribute significant adaptive diversity to the species.
    The Tanzanian population is one of only three known populations 
within the species. Although it is not the only surviving natural 
occurrence of the taxon, we determined that loss of this population 
segment would result in a significant gap in the taxon's range for the 
following reasons: Although coelacanth populations are not thought to 
maintain reproductive connectivity, loss of one population would make 
the other two populations more vulnerable to catastrophic events, as 
explained earlier. The extent of the Tanzanian population's range is 
not known, but given the existence of only three known coelacanth 
populations considered to be small and isolated, loss of the Tanzanian 
population would constitute a significant gap in the range of the 
taxon, and thus we consider this population to be significant to the 
taxon as a whole.
    We determined that the Tanzanian population is discrete based on 
evidence for its genetic and geographic isolation from the rest of the 
taxon. The population also meets the significance criterion set forth 
by the DPS policy, as its loss would constitute a significant gap in 
the taxon's range. Because it is both discrete and significant to the 
taxon as a whole, we identify the Tanzanian population as a valid DPS.

Proposed Determination

    We assessed the ESA section 4(a)(1) factors and conclude that the 
species, viewed across its entire range, experiences a low risk of 
extinction. However, we determined that the Tanzanian population 
constitutes a significant portion of the range of the species, as 
defined by the SPR policy (79 FR 37577; July 1, 2014). The Tanzanian 
population faces ongoing or future threats from overutilization and 
habitat destruction, with the species' natural biological vulnerability 
to overexploitation exacerbating the severity of the threats. The 
Tanzanian population faces demographic risks, such as population 
isolation with low productivity, which make it likely to be influenced 
by stochastic or depensatory processes throughout its range, and place 
the population at an increased risk of extinction from the 
aforementioned threats within the foreseeable future. In our 
consideration of the foreseeable future, we evaluated how far into the 
future we could reliably predict the operation of the major threats to 
this population, as well as the population's response to those threats. 
We are confident in our ability to predict out several decades in 
assessing the threats of overutilization and habitat destruction, and 
their interaction with the life history of the coelacanth, with its 
lifespan of 40 or more years. With regard to habitat destruction, we 
evaluated the likelihood of the deep water port being constructed. If 
the port is to be developed, the results could significantly impact the 
Tanzanian coelacanth population. Evidence suggests that the plans for 
its construction are moving forward; its construction is not certain, 
but likely. If built, the construction of the port would likely occur 
within the next decade. With bycatch, and its interaction with the 
fish's demographic characteristics, we feel that defining the 
foreseeable future out to several decades is appropriate. Based on this 
information, we find that the Tanzanian population is at a moderate 
risk of extinction within the foreseeable future. Therefore, we 
consider the Tanzanian population to be threatened.
    In accordance with the our SPR policy, if a species is determined 
to be threatened or endangered across a significant portion of its 
range, and the population in that significant portion is a valid DPS, 
we will list the DPS rather than the entire taxonomic species or 
subspecies. Based on the best available scientific and commercial 
information as presented in the status report and this finding, we do 
not find that the African coelacanth L. chalumnae is currently in 
danger of extinction throughout all of its range, nor is it likely to 
become so in the foreseeable future. However, because the Tanzanian 
population represents a significant portion of the range of the 
species, and this population is threatened, we conclude that the 
African coelacanth is threatened in a significant portion of its range. 
Because the population in the significant portion of the range is a 
valid DPS, we will list the DPS rather than the entire taxonomic 
species or subspecies.
    Therefore, we propose to list the Tanzanian DPS of the African 
coelacanth as threatened under the ESA.

Similarity of Appearance

    The petition requested that, if the African coelacanth were listed 
under the ESA, the Indonesian coelacanth also be listed due to its 
``similarity of

[[Page 11377]]

appearance.'' The ESA provides for treating any species as an 
endangered species or a threatened species even if it is not listed as 
such under the ESA if: (1) Such species so closely resembles in 
appearance, at the point in question, a species which has been listed 
pursuant to section 4 of the ESA that enforcement personnel would have 
substantial difficulty in attempting to differentiate between the 
listed and unlisted species; (2) the effect of this substantial 
difficulty is an additional threat to the listed species; and (3) such 
treatment of an unlisted species will substantially facilitate the 
enforcement and further the policy of the ESA.
    While the African and Indonesian species exhibit morphological 
similarities, they are clearly geographically and genetically 
separated. Enforcement personnel would have no difficulty in 
differentiating between the Tanzanian DPS of the African coelacanth and 
the Indonesian coelacanth because of similarity of appearance because 
their geographic separation (in the Western Indian Ocean and Indo-
Pacific, respectively) should facilitate regulation of taking. The 
species experience no overlap in range and catch of both species is 
relatively low, and well-documented. We do not deem ESA protection for 
the Indonesian coelacanth to be advisable at this time, as the clear 
genetic and geographic differences between the two species set them 
apart in a way that allows for easy identification, regardless of their 
similar appearance.
    Because we are proposing to list the Tanzanian DPS as a threatened 
species under the ESA, we also considered any potential similarity of 
appearance issues that may arise in differentiating between the 
proposed DPS and other populations of the species. No morphological 
characteristics separate the Tanzanian DPS from other populations of 
the species. However, we do not conclude that listing the South African 
or Comoran populations based on similarity of appearance is warranted. 
First, outside of Tanzania, coelacanth catches are infrequent, and well 
documented. Second, the three known coelacanth populations do not 
overlap geographically. Differentiation between the African and 
Indonesian coelacanth, and likewise between the Tanzanian DPS and other 
populations of the species, could potentially pose a problem for 
enforcement of section 9 prohibitions on trade, should any be applied. 
However, that issue is addressed, at least with respect to imports and 
exports, by the inclusion of coelacanth in CITES Appendix I.

Effects of Listing

    Conservation measures provided for species listed as endangered or 
threatened under the ESA include recovery plans (16 U.S.C. 1533(f)); 
concurrent designation of critical habitat, if prudent and determinable 
(16 U.S.C. 1533(a)(3)(A)) and consistent with implementing regulations; 
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, for endangered species, 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.

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 this DPS under the 
ESA will increase the number of section 7 consultations, because the 
DPS occurs outside of the United States and is 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 maximum 
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 data as discussed above identify the 
geographical area occupied by the species as being entirely outside 
U.S. jurisdiction, so we cannot designate critical habitat for this 
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. Based on the best available information, we have not 
identified unoccupied area(s) in U.S. water that are currently 
essential to the species proposed for listing. Thus, as we discussed 
above, we will not propose critical habitat for this species.

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 NMFS 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 the Tanzanian DPS of the African 
coelacanth as threatened, no prohibitions of Section 9(a)(1) of the ESA 
will apply to this species.

Protective Regulations Under Section 4(d) of the ESA

    We are proposing to list Tanzanian DPS of the African coelacanth, 
L. chalumnae as threatened under the ESA. 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

[[Page 11378]]

pursuant to section 4(d) for the proposed threatened coelacanth DPS. 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 the Tanzanian DPS of the African coelacanth will be as accurate 
and effective as possible, we are soliciting comments and information 
from the public, other concerned governmental agencies, the scientific 
community, industry, and any other interested parties on information in 
the status review and proposed rule. Comments are encouraged on this 
proposal (See DATES and ADDRESSES). We must base our final 
determination on the best available scientific and commercial 
information. We cannot, for example, consider the economic effects of a 
listing determination. Before finalizing this proposed rule, we will 
consider the comments and any additional information we receive, and 
such information 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 the Tanzanian DPS of the 
African coelacanth proposed for listing;
    (2) Taxonomic information on the species;
    (3) Biological information (life history, genetics, population 
connectivity, etc.) on the species;
    (4) Efforts being made to protect the species throughout its 
current range;
    (5) Information on the commercial trade of the species;
    (6) Historical and current distribution and abundance and trends 
for the species; and
    (7) Information relevant to potential ESA section 4(d) protective 
regulations for the proposed threatened DPS, especially the 
application, if any, of the ESA section 9 prohibitions on import, take, 
possession, receipt, and sale of the African coelacanth.
    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, in addition to a 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 the African coelacanth status review report, 
including from: Five scientists with expertise on the African 
coelacanth. We incorporated these comments into the status review 
report for the African coelacanth and this 12-month finding.

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 the DPS 
(Tanzania). 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

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

    Dated: February 25, 2015.
Samuel D. Rauch, III.
Deputy Assistant Administrator for Regulatory Programs, National Marine 
Fisheries Service.

    For the reasons set out in the preamble, we propose to amend 50 CFR 
part 223 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 adding a new 
entry for one species in alphabetical order under the ``Fishes'' table 
subheading to read as follows:


Sec.  223.102  Enumeration of threatened marine and anadromous species.

* * * * *
    (e) * * *

[[Page 11379]]



--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                           Species \1\
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------    Citation(s) for listing      Critical    ESA rules
              Common name                    Scientific name        Description of listed entity          determination(s)          habitat
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
 
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                      * * * * * * *
                                                                         Fishes
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Coelacanth, African (Tanzanian DPS)...  Latimeria chalumnae......  African coelacanth population   [Insert Federal Register              NA          NA
                                                                    inhabiting deep waters off      citation and date when
                                                                    the coast of Tanzania.          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).

* * * * *
[FR Doc. 2015-04405 Filed 3-2-15; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3510-22-P