NMFS Proposes Critical Habitat for 5 Species of Coral

On November 30, 2023, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) published a proposed rule in the Federal Register designating critical habitat for the following 5 species of coral: Acropora globiceps, Acropora retusa, Acropora speciosa, Euphyllia paradivisa, and Isopora crateriformi. All 5 species have been designated as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.

The area encompassed by the NMFS rule includes 16 island units encompassing approximately 251 square kilometers ((km2); 97 square miles (mi2)) of marine habitat.

NMFS prepared an Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (IRFA) focusing on small entities in the following areas: water and sewer line and related structures construction, highway, street and bridge construction, other heavy and civil engineering construction and dredging and surface cleanup. The IRFA identified total impacts between $4,675 and $872,331 to small entities engaged in these areas engaging in in-water and coastal construction and dredging that consult with NMFS regarding the listed Indo-Pacific coral species critical habitat in the next 10 years.

Public hearings on this proposed rule will be held during the comment period at dates, times, and locations to be announced in a future Federal Register notice.

Comments are due on the proposed rule by February 28, 2024.