The National Marine Fisheries Service is considering adding the dwarf seahorse (Hippocampus zosterae) to the threatened or endangered species lists after receiving a petition from the nonprofit Center for Biological Diversity.
A listing of threatened or endangered would effectively ban U.S. trade of the dwarf seahorse, including imports, exports and interstate sales.
According to the petition, the seahorse’s population is at risk due to loss of habitat, overharvesting, inadequate regulatory protection and invasive species, among other factors, and the demand for the seahorses in the aquarium, curio and traditional Chinese medicine trades.
The NMFS found “substantial scientific or commercial information” in the petition to warrant a status review to determine if the species is endangered or at risk of becoming endangered.
As part of the review, the NMFS is soliciting information from the public, including data for the curio, traditional medicine and aquarium trade of the seahorse. The Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council plans to respond to the solicitation and is seeking information from the industry regarding the volume of seahorses harvested for ornamental fish trade, curio trade, traditional medicine trade and other trade, along with volume of intra-U.S. trade of U.S.-harvested or -cultured specimens, volume of U.S. exports and imports, and captive-breeding initiatives underway in the U.S. and elsewhere. The NMFS comment period ends July 3, 2012, and PIJAC is soliciting information until June 20, 2012.