Request for Comments: Proposed Rule to List Queen Conch as Threatened under the Endangered Species Act

Today NOAA Fisheries announced a proposed rule to list the queen conch as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). After completing a comprehensive status review, taking into account efforts being made to protect the species, we have determined that the queen conch is likely to become an endangered species within the foreseeable future throughout its range. Therefore, we propose to list the queen conch as a threatened species under the ESA. Any protective regulations determined to be necessary and advisable for the conservation of the queen conch under ESA would be proposed in a subsequent Federal Register announcement.

Summary of Proposed Action:

  • NOAA Fisheries is announcing a proposed rule to list queen conch as threatened under the Endangered Species Act and requesting public comment now though November 7, 2022.
  • The primary threat to the queen conch is overutilization through commercial, recreational and subsistence, and illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing. Despite a multitude of fisheries management measures enacted across the species’ range, populations are depleted.
  • A threatened listing does not automatically result in take prohibitions and will not automatically impose any restrictions on trade in queen conch. However, we are considering whether protective regulations may be necessary and advisable and whether to apply prohibitions to conserve this species if listed under the ESA. Protective regulations would be issued through a separate rulemaking.

How to Comment on the Proposed Rule:

We intend that any final action resulting from this proposal will be as accurate as possible and informed by the best available scientific and commercial information. The comment period is open now through November 7, 2022.

We seek comments containing: (1) new or updated information regarding queen conch landings and illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing; (2) new or updated queen conch fisheries-dependent or -independent data including stock assessments; (3) new or updated information on the status of the species, including surveys, density, and abundance information; (4) new or updated information regarding queen conch population structure, age structure, and connectivity; (5) new or updated information on queen conch range, habitat use, and distribution; (6) new or updated on data concerning any threats to the queen conch; (7) efforts being made to protect the species throughout its range; (8) new or updated queen conch fisheries management measures; or (9) other pertinent information regarding the species.

In order to inform our consideration of appropriate protective regulations for the species, we seek information from the public on possible measures for their conservation. While, we are not proposing regulations at this time, but may consider promulgating protective regulations pursuant to section 4(d) for the queen conch in a future rulemaking.

We also seek information on areas in U.S. jurisdiction that may meet the definition of critical habitat for the queen conch as well as potential impacts of designating any particular areas as critical habitat.

You may submit comments by electronic submission or by postal mail.  Comments sent by any other method (such as e-mail), to any other address or individual, or received after the end of the comment period, may not be considered by NOAA Fisheries.