Fish Agency Finally Reviews Longfin Smelt
WASHINGTON - After almost four years, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will perform a full review of the longfin smelt's status under the Endangered Species Act. The agency requests further commercial data and other information on this species to determine whether it should be protected.
The longfin migrates to freshwater or areas of low salinity to spawn, and the Center for Biological Diversity claims that poor management of The San Francisco Estuary ecosystem has allowed excessive water diversions and reduced freshwater flow into the bay, which has caused the fish to undergo two catastrophic declines in just 20 years.
In 2007, the Bay Institute, the Center for Biological Diversity, and the Natural Resources Defense Council petitioned to list the San Francisco Bay-Delta population of the longfin smelt as a distinct population segment and to designate critical habitat.
In 2009, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service determined that the San Francisco Bay-Delta population of the longfin smelt did not meet the discreteness criterion of its distinct population segment standard, so the agency did not continue reviewing the fish.
The Center for Biological Diversity then filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, challenging the agency on the merits of their determination.
The current review comes from a February legal settlement in which the agency agreed to conduct a range-wide 12-month finding to be published by Sept. 30, 2011.
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