Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, April 15, 2016

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

Alabama Shad One Step Closer to Endangered Species Protection 

Gulf Fish Hurt by Inland Dams, Dredging, Pollution

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla.— The Center for Biological Diversity and the National Marine Fisheries Service reached a settlement today requiring the agency to determine by June 2016 whether it will protect the Alabama shad, a rare and vanishing fish, under the Endangered Species Act. The Fisheries Service made an initial finding in 2013 that protections may be warranted, but failed to provide protection.

“Even though the Alabama shad is now only found in a fraction of the rivers it used to live in, it’s not too late to recover this oceangoing fish in its historic Southeast habitat,” said Jaclyn Lopez, the Center’s Florida director. “Endangered Species Act protection will help guide restoration efforts that will help the shad rebound.”

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 have already recognized its precarious status.

The Fisheries Service listed the Alabama shad as a candidate for protection under the Act in 1997 — a status that confers no actual safeguards. The Center petitioned the agency to protect the shad in 2010. In 2011 the Service found that listing the shad was not warranted, but after the Center challenged that determination, the Service issued a new 90-day finding in 2013, determining that protection may be warranted.

The Fisheries Service has one year after receiving a petition to list a species to issue a proposed rule, also known as a 12-month finding. More than five years have passed since the Service received the petition to list the shad, and it’s been more than two years since the agency made its positive 90-day finding.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 990,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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