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DOC/NOAA RIN: 0648-BG26 Publication ID: Fall 2016 
Title: ●Designation of Critical Habitat for Threatened Indo-Pacific Reef-building Corals 
Abstract: On September 10, 2014, the National Marine Fisheries Service listed 20 species of reef-building corals as threatened under the Endangered Species Act, 15 in the Indo-Pacific and five in the Caribbean. Of the 15 Indo-Pacific species, seven occur in U.S. waters of the Pacific Islands Region, including in American Samoa, Guam, the Commonwealth of the Mariana Islands, and the Pacific Remote Island Areas. This proposed rule would designate critical habitat for the seven species in U.S. waters (Acropora globiceps, Acropora jacquelineae, Acropora retusa, Acropora speciosa, Euphyllia paradivisa, Isopora crateriformis, and Seriatopora aculeata). A separate proposed rule is being prepared to designate critical habitat for the listed Caribbean coral species. The proposed designation would cover coral reef habitat around 13 island or atoll units in the Pacific Islands Region, including three in American Samoa, one in Guam, seven in the Commonwealth of the Mariana Islands , and two in Pacific Remote Island Areas, containing essential features that support reproduction, growth, and survival of the listed coral species. 
Agency: Department of Commerce(DOC)  Priority: Other Significant 
RIN Status: First time published in the Unified Agenda Agenda Stage of Rulemaking: Proposed Rule Stage 
Major: No  Unfunded Mandates: No 
EO 13771 Designation: uncollected 
CFR Citation: 50 CFR 226   
Legal Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.   
Legal Deadline:
Action Source Description Date
Final  Statutory  Statutory deadline for final critical habitat designation of listed Indo-Pacific corals  09/10/2016 

Statement of Need: This action would designate new critical habitat for seven corals (Acropora globiceps, Acropora jacquelineae, Acropora retusa, Acropora speciosa, Euphyllia paradivisa, Isopora crateriformis, and Seriatopora aculeata) in accordance with section 4 of the Endangered Species Act. This action follows from the listing of the seven new species.

Summary of the Legal Basis: Endangered Species Act

Alternatives: NMFS evaluated alternatives including the impacts of designating all and any parts of 19 islands within the U.S. jurisdictions of American Samoa, Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, and the Pacific Remote Island Areas as units of proposed critical habitat for the seven listed corals, including: (1) Tutuila & Offshore Banks; (2) Ofu & Olosega; (3) Ta'u; (4) Rose Atoll; (5) Guam & Offshore Banks; (6) Rota; (7) Aguijan; (8) Tinian and Tatsumi Reef; (9) Saipan and Garapan Bank; (10) Farallon de Medinilla; (11) Anatahan; (12) Pagan; (13) Maug Islands & Supply Reef; (14) Howland Island; (15) Palmyra Atoll; (16) Kingman Reef; (17) Johnston Atoll; (18) Wake Atoll; and (19) Jarvis Island. NMFS analyzed the economic, national security, and other relevant impacts of designating critical habitat. NMFS will further consider these impacts based on any relevant public and peer reviewer comments regarding this proposed designation.

Anticipated Costs and Benefits: The primary benefit of designation is the protection afforded under section 7 of the Endangered Species Act, requiring all Federal agencies to insure their actions are not likely to destroy or adversely modify designated critical habitat. In addition to these protections, the designation may also result in other forms of benefits including, but not limited to: educational awareness and outreach benefits, benefits to tourism and recreation, and improved or sustained habitat quality. Costs specifically associated with the designation of critical habitat stem mainly from Federal agencies requirement to consult with NMFS, under section 7 of the Endangered Species Act, to insure that any action they carry out, permit (authorize), or fund will not result in the destruction or adverse modification of critical habitat of a listed species.

Risks: If critical habitat is not designated, listed corals will not be protected to the extent provided for in the ESA, posing a legal risk to the agency and a risk to the species continued existence and recovery.

Timetable:
Action Date FR Cite
NPRM  12/00/2016 
Regulatory Flexibility Analysis Required: Undetermined  Government Levels Affected: Federal 
Small Entities Affected: No  Federalism: No 
Included in the Regulatory Plan: Yes 
RIN Data Printed in the FR: No 
Agency Contact:
Donna Wieting
Director, Office of Protected Resources
Department of Commerce
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
National Marine Fisheries Service, 1315 East-West Highway,
Silver Spring, MD 20910
Phone:301 427-8400