In the past few weeks, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) published several Endangered Species Act (ESA) listing decisions, including the following:
- On August 1, 2016, NMFS published a 12-month finding on a petition to list the porbeagle shark (Lamna nasus) under the ESA. According to NMFS, the species does not warrant listing at this time. NMFS reviewed two distinct population segments of porbeagle sharks, the North Atlantic and Southern Hemisphere, and acknowledged that the populations have declined due to overfishing. However, NMFS concluded that listing was not warranted because, based on the best scientific and commercial information available, it appears the species’ decline has halted and the populations are currently increasing.
- On August 1, 2016, NMFS issued a final rule listing three foreign marine angelshark species as endangered under the ESA. The three species—the sawback angelshark (Squatina aculeata), smoothback angelshark (Squatina oculata), and common angelshark (Squatina squatina)—occur primarily in the Mediterranean Sea and eastern Atlantic. NMFS did not designate critical habitat because the geographic areas occupied by the species are entirely outside U.S. jurisdiction.
- On July 20, 2016, FWS published a final rule removing the lesser prairie-chicken (Tympanuchus pallidicinctus) from the list of threatened and endangered species. The final rule also removed the rule issued under section 4(d) of the ESA for the species. The final rule is in response to a decision by the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas vacating the prior listing decision.
- On July 6, 2016, FWS published a 12-month finding on a petition to list the Eagle Lake rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss aquilarum) and the Ichetucknee siltsnail (Floridobia mica) under the ESA. Based on the best scientific and commercial information available, FWS concluded that listing the species is not warranted at this time. According to FWS, a fishway providing fish passage and other conservation efforts have improved conditions for the trout. Likewise, FWS found that fencing the siltsnail’s habitat has resulted in a population that is “the largest it has even been.”