No. 323, November 12, 2002

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On 10-23-02, the California Fish and Game Commission voted to create the largest marine protected area on the West Coast of the United States. The vote bans fishing within 12 areas totaling 175 square miles. Though the areas are already within the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary, the sanctuary does not prohibit fishing and thus has not helped to reverse the collapse of fisheries spreading across the West Coast.

The waters of the Channel Islands are especially important to the boccacio (also called red snapper) and white abalone. The abalone was listed as endangered species in May 2001 in response to a petition filed by the Center for Biological Diversity. It is the first marine invertebrate to be listed as an endangered species. It has declined by over 99% due to overfishing and could be extinct within a decade unless extraordinary recovery measures are implemented. The Channel Islands support the most important remaining abalone populations. The Center, NRDC, and Ocean Conservancy filed a petition to list the boccacio as an endangered species in January 2001. It was once was the dominant rockfish caught by trawlers on the Pacific coast but is now set to be the first commercial marine species to be listed as an endangered species. It has declined by 98% decline since 1969.

The new no-fishing reserve, however, is not large enough for the white abalone, boccacio, angel shark or other declining marine species. The Center will continue campaigning to ensure the federal portion of the National Marine Sanctuary is also protected from overfishing. When this occurs, the safe haven will cover 426 square miles, making it the largest marine protected area in the United States.


Center for Biological Diversity population ecologist Dr Martin Taylor is attending the 12th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species in Santiago de Chile from November 2-15. As a representative of the Center and the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society, he will be working with an international coalition dedicated to heading off a campaign by Japan to reopen international trade in whale products. He will also work to obtain greater protection for sea turtles and support CITES protection for basking sharks and seahorses.


Fulfilling a court order won by the Center for Biological Diversity and the California Native Plant Society, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service designated 16,110 acres of critical habitat for two endangered California plants on 11-7-02.

The Lompoc yerba santa (Eriodictyon capitatum) was granted 6,401 acres of critical habitat. A shrub in the waterleaf family, the yerba santa has lavender flowers and reaches heights of ten feet. It grows in maritime chaparral and bishop pine forests in western Santa Barbara county, and has just 4 known locations: 2 on Vandenberg Air Force Base, and 2 on oil fields and private land, with 11-20 populations each. It is threatened by habitat fragmentation and fire management practices.

The Gaviota tarplant (Deinandra increscens ssp. villosa) was granted 9,709 acres of critical habitat. A member of the sunflower family, the tarplant occurs in rare needlegrass grasslands on coastal terraces and ridgelines in the Santa Ynez Mountains, including Vandenberg Air Force Base. Most of the populations are on private lands owned by the petroleum industry, and are threatened by habitat loss and degradation due to development of oil and gas facilities.


On 11-1-07, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals issued a preliminary injunction banning the logging of live trees within the 1,700 acre Star Fire Timber Sale on the Eldorado National Forest. Ignoring scientific research published in a peer-reviewed journal by Center biologist Monica Bond, the Forest Service exempted itself from logging restrictions in two California spotted owl habitat areas. The agency claimed that a forest fire rendered the forest unsuitable to owls and thus could be logged. Bond, however, studied owls on the Eldorado National Forest for three years before publishing a scientific article entitled "Short-term effects of fire on spotted owl survival, site fidelity, mate fidelity and reproductive success" demonstrating that spotted owls continue to use burned forests.

The suit is being argued by Rachel Fazio of the John Muir Project.

For more information on the CA spotted owl, click here...


Based on studies outside the tropics, scientists have traditionally estimated that about 13% of the world's plants are endangered. In a new study published in Science, however, researchers from Duke University's Center for Tropical Conservation and the Missouri Botanical Garden estimate that the actual imperilment rate is between 22% and 47%. The new estimate help close the knowledge gap by analyzing global endangerment patterns and high rates of plant endemism in the tropics.


Researchers have discovered about 120 new frog species in the 750 square kilometers of Sri Lanka's remaining rain forest. The fact that Sri Lanka's amphibian population was thought to be well known prior to this study is an indication of the tremendous numbers of species that have yet to be discovered. Most of the new species hatch as miniature adults from land based eggs. This unusual lifestyle may make them less susceptibly to ultra-violet light and water pollution- two of the major culprits causing a global wave of amphibian declines.

The bad news is that 95% of Sri Lanka's rain forests have disappeared and the researchers were unable to find about 100 frog species that existed at the turn of the century. They think the frogs may be extinct.

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