Status Reviews Underway Pursuant to Petitions for ESA Listings

On October 1, 2009, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) was petitioned by the Natural Resources Defense Council to list the insular population of Hawaiian false killer whales (Pseudorca crassidens) as an endangered species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and designate critical habitat concurrent with listing. The Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center has initiated a status review to provide scientific information needed by NMFS to determine if listing of the population under the ESA is warranted. A status review is a comprehensive assessment of a species' biological status and threats based on the best available scientific and commercial information. A key part of the review is focused on the question of whether the insular stock of false killer whales is a distinct population segment (DPS) under the ESA.

On October 20, 2009, NMFS was petitioned by the Center for Biological Diversity to list 83 coral species as threatened or endangered under the ESA and designate critical habitat concurrent with listing. A second group of PIFSC scientists is conducting a status review to help NMFS determine if listing of the corals under the ESA is warranted. Of the 83 species at issue, 75 are reported to occur in the Pacific. Information about the distribution and abundance of corals in the U.S. Pacific Islands has been collected by the Center’s Coral Reef Ecosystem Division over the past 10 years during biennial Pacific Reef Assessment and Monitoring Program cruises in the Hawaiian, Mariana, and Samoan Archipelagos and Pacific Remote Island Areas (PRIA).