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For Immediate Release, February 16, 2011

Contact: Tierra Curry, (928) 522-3681

Obama Administration Denies Endangered Species Act Protection for Dwindling Alabama Shad

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla.— In response to a petition from the Center for Biological Diversity and other groups, the National Marine Fisheries Service today denied Endangered Species Act protection for the Alabama shad. A positive finding on the petition would have initiated a federal review of the fish’s population status.

“We disagree strongly with the Service’s decision not to give badly needed protections to the Alabama shad, and we will certainly challenge the decision in court,” said Tierra Curry, a conservation biologist with the Center. “This decision continues a growing trend in the Obama administration of failing to follow the science in decisions about management of endangered species.”  

The Alabama shad once occurred in rivers from Florida to Oklahoma; today only a handful of populations survive. The fish was once so abundant that it supported commercial fisheries in Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Indiana and Iowa. Dams, pollution and drought have caused its widespread decline and threaten its survival.

“Today’s wrongful decision could doom the Alabama shad to extinction, adding to the Obama administration’s dismal record on endangered species protection. Our country is faced with an extinction crisis, and President Obama is not acting to address it,” said Curry.

To date the Obama government has only granted federal protection to 58 species, 48 of which occur on one Hawaiian island, for a rate of 29 species per year. By comparison, the Clinton administration protected 522 species for a rate of 65 species per year.

Alabama shad spend most of their six-year lifespan in the ocean, returning to freshwater rivers to breed. Juveniles remain in freshwater for the first six to eight months of their lives, feeding on small fishes and invertebrates.

Learn more about our campaigns to stop the Southeast freshwater extinction crisis and earn protection for all species on the government’s “candidate” list for protection — those deemed in need of protection but indefinitely left without it.

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