Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, May 5, 2015

Contact: Jaclyn Lopez, (727) 490-9190,

Lawsuit Launched to Save Alabama Shad 

Dams, Dredging, Pollution Have Caused Massive Declines of Gulf Fish Once
in Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Indiana, Iowa

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla.— The Center for Biological Diversity today sent a formal notice of intent to sue the National Marine Fisheries Service over its failure to protect the Alabama shad under the Endangered Species Act. The Fisheries Service made an initial finding in 2013 that protection may be warranted, but has failed to provide protection.

Alabama shad map
Map by Curt Bradley, Center for Biological Diversity. This image is available for media use.

“The Fisheries Service has been watching this fish go down the drain for almost 20 years, but doing very little to save it from extinction,” said Jaclyn Lopez, Florida director at the Center. “Endangered Species Act protections will provide the shad a safety net and enable it to recover from years of abuse.”

The Alabama shad was once abundant enough to support commercial fisheries in Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Indiana and Iowa. It is now rarely found in its historic habitat, which has been fragmented and degraded by dams, dredging and pollution. A number of states and scientific organizations already recognize its precarious status.

The Fisheries Service listed the Alabama shad as a candidate for protection under the Act in 1997. The Center petitioned the agency to protect the shad in 2010. In 2011 the Fisheries Service found that listing the shad was not warranted. After the Center challenged that determination, the Fisheries Service issued a new 90-day finding in 2013, determining that protection may be warranted.

After receiving a petition seeking protection for a species, the Fisheries Service has one year to issue a proposed rule, also known as a 12-month finding. More than five years have passed since the agency received the petition to list the shad, and it has been a year and a half since it made its positive 90-day finding. Today’s letter gives notice that if the Fisheries Service fails to correct the violation within 60 days, the Center will file suit in federal district court.


The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 825,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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