For Immediate Release
Five Southeastern Fish Proposed for Endangered Species Act Protection
NASHVILLE, TN - The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today proposed
five southeastern fish for protection as endangered species under the
Endangered Species Act. The five fish are part of a backlog of
candidate species that, following today’s proposal, includes 245
species and are the subject of a lawsuit by the Center for Biological
Diversity and other groups. The fish have been waiting between three and
25 years for protection.
“Today’s proposal is welcome news for these highly
endangered fish and a step in the right direction, but still falls well
short of the kind of progress that is needed to address the backlog of
species waiting for protection,” said Noah Greenwald, endangered
species program director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Just
as he’s failed to reform the Mineral Management Service, Interior
Secretary Salazar has also failed to enact necessary reforms at the
Fish and Wildlife Service.”
Under the George W. Bush administration listing of new
species ground to a near halt, with only a total of 62 species listed
compared to 522 under Clinton and 231 during the presidency of George
H.W. Bush. Even with today’s proposal, the Obama administration has not
substantially increased the pace of species listings. It has only
proposed protection for a total of 14 species and did not issue a
proposed listing from July 9 of last year until today, meaning that few
species are likely to see protection in the coming year. It did
finalize a proposal from the previous administration to protect 48
species from the island of Kauai, but in the conterminous United States
has to date only finalized protection for two plants.
“Wholesale reform is needed at the Fish and Wildlife
Service to unseat a culture of bureaucratic delay,” said Greenwald.
“With threats to endangered species growing every day, lack of reform
at the Service is endangering the country’s wildlife.”
Swift action to protect endangered species is
particularly needed in southeastern rivers and streams, where the
combination of unparalleled diversity and multiple threats is resulting
in the worst extinction crisis in North America. In April, the Center
submitted a petition to list 404 southeastern aquatic species,
including one of the five species just proposed for protection. The
Fish and Wildlife Service is currently considering the petition.
“With unparalleled diversity and a variety of severe
threats, the Southeast’s rivers are the extinction capital of North
America,” said Greenwald. “Dams, pollution, growing demand for water,
and uncertainty about future water availability with global climate
change mean hundreds of species need Endangered Species Act protection
to have any chance at survival.”
The species proposed for protection today are the
Cumberland darter, rush darter, yellowcheek darter, chucky madtom and
laurel dace and are found in Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama and Arkansas.
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