Settlement Will Secure Habitat for Black Abalone Endangered by Climate Change

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Catherine Kilduff, Center for Biological Diversity, (415) 644-8580

Settlement Will Secure Habitat for Black Abalone Endangered by Climate Change

SAN FRANCISCO - A
court-ordered settlement filed yesterday requires the federal government
to
protect habitat for the endangered black abalone. The agreement results
from a
lawsuit filed by the Center for Biological Diversity challenging the
National
Marine Fisheries Service's failure to designate critical habitat for the
shellfish, which, once common in Southern California
tide pools, has declined by 99 percent since the 1970s.

"Black
abalone is on the cusp of extinction and could be California's first
marine species lost
to global warming," said Catherine Kilduff, a staff attorney at the
Center. "Habitat protections can provide a basis for recovery of the
black abalone, which is a crucial constituent of California's kelp bed
ecosystems."

On
January 14, 2009, in response to a Center petition, black abalone was
listed as
an endangered species under the Endangered Species Act. With that
listing,
federal agencies by law must protect the abalone's critical habitat.
According to the federal government's own data, species with critical
habitat protected under the Endangered Species Act are twice as likely
to be
recovering as those without.

"The
loss of black abalone along the California
coast is a warning: Our oceans are in trouble," said Kilduff.
"Habitat protections are needed to improve the black abalone's
chances for surviving the threats of global warming and ocean
acidification."

While
fishing for black abalone is banned in the state, overfishing initially
depleted the population, and poaching continues to hinder recovery. Now
global
warming is exacerbating the outbreak and spread of a disease called
withering
syndrome that has caused black abalone virtually to disappear from the
Southern
California mainland and many areas of the Channel Islands.
Additionally, ocean acidification poses an increasing threat to the
abalone's growth and reproduction.   

Congress
has emphasized the importance of critical habitat under the Endangered
Species
Act by stating that "the ultimate effectiveness of the Endangered
Species
Act will depend on the designation of critical habitat." The National
Marine Fisheries Service must propose critical habitat for black abalone
by
September 20, 2010.

More information on the black abalone is available at
http://www.biologicaldiversity.org/species/invertebrates/black_abalone/index.html

###

At the Center for Biological Diversity, we believe that the welfare of human beings is deeply linked to nature - to the existence in our world of a vast diversity of wild animals and plants. Because diversity has intrinsic value, and because its loss impoverishes society, we work to secure a future for all species, great and small, hovering on the brink of extinction. We do so through science, law, and creative media, with a focus on protecting the lands, waters, and climate that species need to survive.

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