On March 3, 2015, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) issued two Federal Register notices – a 90-day finding on a petition (pdf) to list the Common thresher shark (Alopias vulpinus) as either threatened or endangered, and a proposed rule to list  (pdf) the Tanzanian distinct population segment (DPS) of the African Coelacanth (Latimeria chalumnae) as a threatened species.

Common thresher shark

On August 26, 2014, Friends of Animals petitioned NMFS to list the Common thresher shark as endangered or threatened under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), or, in the alternative, to delineate six distinct population segments of the Common thresher shark and list each as endangered or threatened.  In the 90-day finding NMFS stated that neither the petition nor any information readily available to NMFS provided support for the existence of the six proposed distinct population segments.  However, based on information in NMFS files and information presented in the petition, NMFS found substantial evidence to support the finding that listing the Common thresher shark worldwide as either threatened or endangered may be warranted.  The 90-day finding states that the may be warranted determination is due to the species’ continued overexploitation associated with bycatch, recreational fishing, commercial fishing, and direct catch associated with the shark fin trade.

African coelacanth

The African coelacanth is an armored fish that was thought to be extinct until 1938 and is one of only two species belonging to the order Coelacanthiformes, which have existed for over 65 million years.  Prompted by a July 15, 2013 petition filed by WildEarth Guardians, NMFS undertook a status review of the species.  In the proposed rule, NMFS describes the range of the species as restricted to three main populations: (1) the Tanzanian population, (2) the Cormoran population, and (3) the South African population.  NMFS also states that there is no known genetic exchange between the populations, and that each population is geographically isolated from one another.  NMFS states in the proposed rule that the significance prong for a distinct population segment is met because there are only three known populations of the fish, and the loss of any one population would constitute a significant gap in the species’ range.  NMFS also states that the Tanzanian population of coelacanth is faced with moderate threats due to ongoing bycatch and plans to develop a deep water port in coastal waters where the fish occurs.  As the moderate threats were only identified for the Tanzanian DPS, NMFS has proposed to list only the Tanzanian DPS as threatened under the ESA.