150 Square Miles of California Shore Proposed for Habitat for Black Abalone Endangered by Climate Change

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

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

150 Square Miles of California Shore Proposed for Habitat for Black Abalone Endangered by Climate Change

SAN FRANCISCO - The federal
government today announced its proposal to protect
150 square miles of rocky California
shoreline for the endangered black abalone. The decision results from a lawsuit
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.

“If
the black abalone is going to survive global warming and a host of other
threats, it must have a safe haven along California’s
rocky shores,” said Catherine Kilduff, a staff attorney at the Center,
which filed its suit over critical habitat in March. “Lessening assaults
on the marine environment can help recover black abalone, which is a crucial
species in kelp forests.”

While
fishing for black abalone is now banned in the state, overfishing initially
depleted the population. Now global warming is exacerbating the outbreak and
spread of a disease called withering syndrome that has caused black abalone to
virtually disappear from the Southern California mainland and many areas of the
Channel Islands. Increasingly, ocean
acidification threatens the abalone’s growth and reproduction and reduces
the abundance of coralline algae, required for young abalone settlement and
survival.

“The
loss of black abalone along the California
coast is a warning: Our oceans are in trouble,” said Kilduff.
“Improving water quality by addressing contaminants, ocean acidification
and ocean warming will give black abalone a chance at survival as well as
benefit all marine fish and wildlife.”

After
a petition by the Center, black abalone was listed as an endangered species on
Jan. 14, 2009. With that listing, federal agencies by law must protect the
abalone’s critical habitat. Safeguarding black abalone habitat means
curbing climate change and ocean acidification. The government must avoid
destruction of the abalone’s habitat by permitted activities such as
projects with significant greenhouse gas emissions, coastal development,
wastewater treatment, pesticide application and livestock operations on federal
lands. 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.

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

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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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