June 16, 2021

Caribbean Electric Ray will not be listed as Threatened or Endangered

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Screen Shot 2016-08-03 at 10.43.21 AMNotice of 12-month finding on a petition to list the Caribbean Electric Ray as Threatened or Endangered

From Ocean Leadership

We, NMFS, announce a 12-month finding and listing determination on a petition to list the Caribbean electric ray (Narcine bancroftii) as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

(From The Federal Register)– We have completed a comprehensive status review of the species in response to a petition submitted by WildEarth Guardians and Defenders of Wildlife and considered the best scientific and commercial data available. Based on the best scientific and commercial data available, including the status review report (Carlson et al. 2015), we have determined that the species is not currently in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its range and is not likely to become so within the foreseeable future. Therefore, we conclude that the Caribbean electric ray does not warrant listing at this time.

IMAGE: Each year, 6 to 8 percent of the global population of sharks and rays gets caught, scientists say. The fish can’t reproduce fast enough to keep pace. (Credit: Mike Johnston/Flickr)
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SOURCE: http://oceanleadership.org/notice-12-month-finding-petition-list-caribbean-electric-ray-threatened-endangered/

BACKGROUND
On September 7, 2010, we received a petition from WildEarth Guardians to list the Caribbean electric ray as threatened or endangered throughout its historical and current range and to designate critical habitat within the territory of the United States concurrently with listing the species under the ESA. On March 22, 2011 (76 FR 15947), we made a 90-day finding that the petition did not present substantial scientific or commercial information indicating that the petitioned action may be warranted.
On March 22, 2012, we received a 60-day notice of intent to sue from WildEarth Guardians on the negative 90-day finding. On February 26, 2013, WildEarth Guardians filed a Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida, Tampa Division, on the negative 90-day finding. On October 1, 2013, the Court approved a settlement agreement under which we agreed to accept a supplement to the 2010 petition, if any was provided, and to make a new 90-day finding based on the 2010 petition, the supplement, and any additional information readily available in our files.
On October 31, 2013, we received a supplemental petition from WildEarth Guardians and Defenders of Wildlife. On January 30, 2014, we published a 90-day finding with our determination that the petition presented substantial scientific and commercial information indicating that the petitioned action may be warranted (79 FR 4877). In our 90-day finding, we requested scientific and commercial information from the public to inform the status review on the species. Specifically, we requested information on the status of the Caribbean electric ray throughout its range including: (1) Historical and current distribution and abundance of this species throughout its range; (2) historical and current population trends; (3) life history and habitat requirements; (4) population structure information, such as genetics data; (5) past, current and future threats specific to the Caribbean electric ray, including any current or planned activities that may adversely impact the species, especially information on destruction, modification, or curtailment of habitat and on bycatch in commercial and artisanal fisheries worldwide; (6) ongoing or planned efforts to protect and restore the species and its habitat; and (7) management, regulatory, and enforcement information on the species and its habitats. We received information from the public in response to the 90-day finding and incorporated relevant information in the species status review.

Listing Determinations Under the ESA
We are responsible for determining whether the Caribbean electric ray is threatened or endangered under the ESA (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.). Section 4(b)(1)(A) of the ESA requires us to make listing determinations based solely on the best scientific and commercial data available after conducting a review of the status of the species and after taking into account efforts being made by any state or foreign nation to protect the species.
To be considered for listing under the ESA, a group of organisms must constitute a “species,” which is defined in section 3 of the ESA to include taxonomic species and “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.” In our 90-day finding we found that the petitioned species constitutes a valid species eligible for listing under the ESA based on the information presented in the petition, along with information readily available in our files. To determine whether the Caribbean electric ray warrants listing under the ESA, we convened a Status Review Team (SRT). The SRT was comprised of NMFS Southeast Fisheries Science Center and NMFS Southeast Regional Office biologists. The SRT reviewed an unpublished dissertation that separated the genus Narcine of the western Atlantic Ocean into two species: N. brasiliensis, and N. bancroftii (de Carvalho 1999). The SRT noted some taxonomic uncertainty (see Taxonomy and Species Description), but accepted de Carvalho (1999) as the best available information on the species taxonomy. Narcine bancroftii is recognized as a valid species in the Catalog of Fishes, the authoritative reference for taxonomic fish names and taxonomic revision (Eschmeyer 2015). We accept both de Carvalho (1999) and Eschmeyer (2015) as the best available science at this time, thus we maintain that Narcine bancroftii is a valid species eligible for listing.
When we consider whether a 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 ability to forecast the effects of these threats and future events on the status of the species under consideration. Because a species may be susceptible to a variety of threats for which different data are available, or which operate across different time scales, the foreseeable future is not necessarily reducible to a particular number of years or a single timeframe.
Under section 4(a) of the ESA, we must determine whether any species is endangered or threatened due to any of the following five factors: (A) The present or threatened destruction, modification, or curtailment of its habitat or range; (B) overutilization for commercial, recreational, scientific, or educational purposes; (C) disease or predation; (D) the inadequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms; or (E) other natural or manmade factors affecting its continued existence (sections 4(a)(1)(A) through (E)).
The SRT completed a status review report, which summarized the best available information on the taxonomy, distribution, abundance, life history and biology of the species, analyzed the threats identified as potentially impacting the status of the species, and conducted an extinction risk analysis (ERA) to determine the status of the species. The results of the ERA are discussed below under “Extinction Risk Analysis.” The status review report incorporates relevant information received from the public in response to our request for information (79 FR 4877; January 30, 2014). The draft status review report was submitted to 3 independent peer reviewers and comments and information received from the peer reviewers were addressed and incorporated as appropriate into the draft report before finalizing it. The peer review report is available at http://www.cio.noaa.gov/services_programs/prplans/PRsummaries.html.
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.” Thus, we interpret an “endangered species” to be one that is presently in danger of extinction. A “threatened species” is not currently in danger of extinction but is likely to become so within the foreseeable future. The key 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).
In determining whether the species meets the standard of endangered or threatened, we considered the specific life history and ecology of the species, the nature of threats, the species’ response to those threats, and population numbers and trends. We considered information summarized in the status review report (Carlson et al. 2015). We considered each threat that was identified, both individually and cumulatively. For purposes of our analysis, the mere identification of factors that could impact a species negatively is not sufficient to compel a finding that ESA listing is appropriate. In considering those factors that might constitute threats, we look beyond mere exposure of the species to the factor to determine whether the species responds, either to a single or multiple threats, in a way that causes actual impacts to the species’ status. In making this finding, we have considered and evaluated the best available scientific and commercial information, including information received in response to our 90-day finding.

Read the full article here: https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2016/07/22/2016-17397/endangered-and-threatened-wildlife-and-plants-notice-of-12-month-finding-on-a-petition-to-list-the

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