Spawning Sunflwoer Sea Star Underwater in Couepville, Washington

Assessment and Evaluation of the Sunflower Sea Star for Listing Under the Endangered Species Act: Process and Implications

About the Class

11:15 AM - 12:15 PM Session 2
Speaker: Dr. Dayv Lowry

The purpose of the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA) is to protect and recover imperiled species and the ecosystems upon which they depend. Once a petition is submitted to consider a species for listing, the assessment process is well-defined and rigorous, relying on the best available science to make a determination of population viability and then canvassing existing conservation efforts to decide whether federal intervention is warranted. This process is not prescriptive, however, and variation in the depth of biological and ecological knowledge across species means that each evaluation differs in scope and scale. In many cases, gaps in knowledge require reasonable assumptions to be made by drawing on proxy species, past precedents, and model-based estimates.

A pandemic of sea star wasting syndrome resulted in the estimated loss of over 95% of the global Sunflower Sea Star population from 2013-17.

In this session, the process of considering a species for listing under the ESA will be broken down into simple terms and timelines using the sunflower sea star as an example. In 2021, the sunflower sea star was petitioned for listing under the ESA. The primary threat to the species was identified as a pandemic of sea star wasting syndrome, resulting in the estimated loss of over 95% of the global population from 2013-17. In March of 2022, NOAA Fisheries proposed to list the species as threatened under the ESA, and a final determination is expected in the spring of 2024. Why has the process taken so long? Stop in to find out and ask any questions you have!

sunflower sea star at Onamac on Camano
Sunflower Sea Star in Camano, WA. By: Sharon Linton

Contact info: david.lowry@noaa.gov

Affiliation: NOAA Fisheries Weighs Protection for Sunflower Sea Star Native to West Coast

Spawning Sunflwoer Sea Star Underwater in Couepville, Washington
Spawning Sunflower Sea Star in Coupeville, WA. By: Tabitha Jacobs-Mangiafico

About the Speaker

Dr. Dayv Lowry

Dr. Dayv Lowry is the Rockfish Recovery Coordinator for NOAA Fisheries' Protected Resources Division, where he coordinates all aspects of recovery plan implementation for...

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