NOAA Proposes Regulations to Protect Black Abalone
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fisheries
Service published in the Federal Register on Jan. 11 a proposed rule to
list black abalone, a marine mollusk, as endangered under the
Endangered Species Act. The proposal comes after NOAA Fisheries Service
considered the report of a scientific review team concluding that the
species is at risk of extinction.
"The scientific review team reported major declines in the
population of black abalone, especially in the areas around the Channel
Islands off Southern California," said Rod McInnis, southwest regional
administrator for the National Marine Fisheries Service. "These
proposed regulations seek federal protection for black abalone and
request input from the public in determining what areas might be
included as critical habitat for the species."
Black abalone once were plentiful in the intertidal waters from
Northern Baja California, Mexico, to Monterey, Calif. The species was
utilized by early California natives and peaked as a commercial fishery
in the state in 1973 with almost two million pounds harvested.
Since the 1980s, black abalone abundance has plummeted,
primarily from a bacterial disease known as withering syndrome. Other
causes of the rapid population decline are likely due to historical
overfishing, poaching and natural predation.
The proposed rule may be found at: swr.nmfs.noaa.gov. Comments on the proposed rule must be received within 90 days after date of publication in the Federal Register.
Comments may be submitted electronically to www.regulations.gov,
by fax at 562-980-4027, Attn: Melissa Neuman, or by mail to Chief,
Protected Resources Division, Southwest Region, National Marine
Fisheries Service, 501 West Ocean Blvd., Suite 4200, Long Beach, CA,