Agency rejects petition to list cold-water corals

A federal agency has rejected a petition seeking to list 44 cold water corals off Alaska as threatened or endangered.

An environmental group says the corals are threatened by commercial fishing, ocean warming, acidification and oil spills.

But the National Marine Fisheries Service says the petition submitted in August by the Center for Biological Diversity didn’t present enough information to make the case that a listing may be warranted.

The agency says in an announcement Tuesday that there are no empirical studies demonstrating harmful effects to corals from the listed threats.

The conclusion means the agency will not conduct a formal status review of the corals.

However, the agency also says it’s encouraging interested parties to gather data that will assist with conservation of Alaska’s cold water corals.