ESA Petition Dwarf Seahorse --- NOAA 90-Day Finding

spawner

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On April 7, 2010, we received a petition from the Center for Biological Diversity to list the dwarf seahorse (Hippocampus zosterae) as threatened or endangered under the ESA. The petitioner also requested that critical habitat be designated. The petition states that the species is declining and threatened with extinction due to loss or curtailment of seagrass habitat and range, overutilization resulting from commercial seahorse collection, inadequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms, vulnerable life-history parameters, noise, bycatch mortality, illegal fishing, invasive species, and tropical storms and hurricanes. Copies of this petition are available from us (see ADDRESSES, above) or at http://sero.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/ListingPetitions.htm.
 

jeff@zina.com

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From what I've seen, they're not threatened that much. The BP oil spill hit the grass flats in the Mississippi/Alabama area hard, but nothing in Florida south of the panhandle and nothing in Texas/Mexico. Locally (Southwest Florida), H. zosterae is pretty common, even though we've been hit over the years by quite a bit of habitat reduction. There's been no real issue south of here that I know of. Outside of pollution, there's really been no habitat destruction in the past decade or two due to development. Red tides are still issues, and likely will be no matter what.

But then, I live in an area where endangered species can be found begging french fries at the local drive-through.

Jeff
 
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Checker":32o8v7rc said:
Andy, are US seahorses under such a threat?
I believe this species is one of the few seahorses people consider US seahorses. Along with H erectus, H zosterae are found in the waters of US soil.

I am really excited. A colleague went to the SeaHorse Symposium at Shedds last fall, I was too chicken to go with. But, she brought in the CD of all the lectures today. I am going to start watching it tonight. Way high on the list of cool movies at my house.

Andy, I love your way with words but I read this earlier from someone else. I think he says it a bit better?

http://mofibinternational.com/

This is the same group that tried to get 82 corals placed on the ESA. I am still waiting to see what happens there. It was quite the hoopla when it first came out.
 
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:lol: Why Andy, you have many accounts :lol:

Question was posed to Andy folks, but thanks. I wanted an opinion from someone I know and respect in the scientific world. I'll just email him.
 

spawner

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Seahorses have never really been my thing, I haven't had time to look at the petition in detail, although from my limited knowledge of this seahorse, it seem common in areas with healthy seagrass populations. I think the CBD might be trying to protect habitats through species listing. There is a strong relationship with habitat loss and endangerment for terrestrial species, and a strong relationship between over exploitation and conservation status in marine species. Perhaps near-shore habitat bound species are more similar to terrestrial species in this case. So really any species that is dependent on healthy seagrasses as their habitat are likely to be under similar endangerment status [if any] as this seahorse. It has nearly direct development so, I don't think they travel very far as pelagic fry. As for the fishery for seahorses in the US, it is small, but CITES increased is value by several orders. The domestic wild aquairum based trade is mostly for the H. erectus and curio (dried used for decoration on lamps and such) is based mostly on H. zosterae. From my memory of management workshops the curio fisherman in Florida were using push nets to catch H zosterae, and almost all of the H. erectus come from bait shrimp trawlers as by-catch.

From a quick read of the report just now, I'm always interested in the data treatments. They suggest there is a lot of trade in the drawf seahorses for aquariums and then list several companies that sell them, many are aquaculture operations, then they list the landings from FWC on there, which are nearly all curio landings, which has nothing to do with the aquarium trade, other than the fact that FWC lumps the curio and aquarium trade together in their database. Worst of all they cite growing demand based on a 2001 paper, then cite other old papers, which are great for historical information but terrible for forecasting anything. We all know that the aquarium trade is a different animal from 10-15 years ago when that data used might have been relevant. It seems lot of these reports I have been reading are stuck in the pre-CITES seahorse trade. This one is just that.

Now the habitat loss issue, that is a real issue, the seagrass is in trouble and has been for a long time, all of that is from all of the over development, runoff and discharges in Florida. The Indian River Lagoon use to be clear and full of seagrass, now its murky and devoid in many areas.
 
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jeff@zina.com":293nbq2j said:
Checker":293nbq2j said:
Question was posed to Andy folks, but thanks.
My apologies.

Jeff

Oh I was just pulling your leg ;) Opinions from people on the ground are a valuable input :D
 
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spawner":2h8833vn said:
Seahorses have never really been my thing, I haven't had time to look at the petition in detail, although from my limited knowledge of this seahorse, it seem common in areas with healthy seagrass populations. I think the CBD might be trying to protect habitats through species listing. There is a strong relationship with habitat loss and endangerment for terrestrial species, and a strong relationship between over exploitation and conservation status in marine species. Perhaps near-shore habitat bound species are more similar to terrestrial species in this case. So really any species that is dependent on healthy seagrasses as their habitat are likely to be under similar endangerment status [if any] as this seahorse. It has nearly direct development so, I don't think they travel very far as pelagic fry. As for the fishery for seahorses in the US, it is small, but CITES increased is value by several orders. The domestic wild aquairum based trade is mostly for the H. erectus and curio (dried used for decoration on lamps and such) is based mostly on H. zosterae. From my memory of management workshops the curio fisherman in Florida were using push nets to catch H zosterae, and almost all of the H. erectus come from bait shrimp trawlers as by-catch.

From a quick read of the report just now, I'm always interested in the data treatments. They suggest there is a lot of trade in the drawf seahorses for aquariums and then list several companies that sell them, many are aquaculture operations, then they list the landings from FWC on there, which are nearly all curio landings, which has nothing to do with the aquarium trade, other than the fact that FWC lumps the curio and aquarium trade together in their database. Worst of all they cite growing demand based on a 2001 paper, then cite other old papers, which are great for historical information but terrible for forecasting anything. We all know that the aquarium trade is a different animal from 10-15 years ago when that data used might have been relevant. It seems lot of these reports I have been reading are stuck in the pre-CITES seahorse trade. This one is just that.

Now the habitat loss issue, that is a real issue, the seagrass is in trouble and has been for a long time, all of that is from all of the over development, runoff and discharges in Florida. The Indian River Lagoon use to be clear and full of seagrass, now its murky and devoid in many areas.

Thanks Andy, much appreciated. I value your knowledge of CITES and fishery management.
 
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Where are the 50,000 to 100,000 H. zosterae collected for the aquarium trade mentioned in the petition going? That seems like a lot to not ever see them for sale in LFS.
 
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Thales":6ok2ndc9 said:
Where are the 50,000 to 100,000 H. zosterae collected for the aquarium trade mentioned in the petition going? That seems like a lot to not ever see them for sale in LFS.

They aren't... curio mainly... just another false reporting yet again.
 


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