Center for Biological Diversity

Protect Black Abalone Critical Habitat, Curb Climate Change

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Once common in Southern California tide pools, black abalone have declined by 99 percent since the 1970s. Recently -- more than a year after putting the shellfish on the endangered species list -- the National Marine Fisheries Service proposed to protect 150 square miles of California's coastal and offshore-island rocky intertidal habitat in hopes of protecting black abalone from extinction. The decision results from a lawsuit by the Center for Biological Diversity challenging the Fisheries Service's failure to designate critical habitat for the species.

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. Safeguarding black abalone habitat will mean curbing climate change and ocean acidification.

Your comments to the Fisheries Service are necessary to protect black abalone for future generations. California's marine ecosystem will benefit as a whole from this protection, as the abalone is an indicator species of the health of our oceans.
Please act now to show your support for the designation of black abalone critical habitat and demand the federal government take steps to mitigate climate change impacts on the ocean.

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Please submit comments by November 29, 2010.

Black abalone photo by Glenn Allen, NOAA.

The Fisheries Service identified areas from the "mean higher high water mark" to depths of 6 meters (about 20 feet) currently occupied by black abalone to propose as critical habitat under the Endangered Species Act. With that designation, federal agencies may not take actions that will adversely affect those areas. The government must avoid permitting activities such as projects with significant greenhouse gas emissions, coastal development, wastewater treatment, pesticide application and livestock operations on federal lands that have the potential to destroy black abalone critical habitat.