Abalone listed as an endangered species. California's first
marine invertebrate ever protected under the endangered species
29, 2001 - The National Marine Fisheries Service (NFMS-a division
of the Commerce Department) today designated the white abalone
as "endangered" under the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA).
NMFS' finding, published in the Federal Register, comes in
response to an administrative petition filed in April 1999
by the Center for Biological Diversity requesting the protection
of the species under the ESA. The white abalone, one of eight
abalone species off the California coast, formerly occurred
from near Point Conception, California to Punta Eugenia, Baja
California, Mexico. The species is known to currently exist
in a few locations nears the Channel Islands. The white abalone
grows to a maximum length of ten inches and an adult weighs
between one and two pounds.
white abalone is the first marine invertebrate ever protected
under the ESA.
Abalone Have Declined 99.9% in the past 30 Years.
abalone numbers have declined precipitously from their historic
numbers such that the species is in imminent danger of extinction.
The white abalone once numbered between 2 and 4 million animals.
The most recent surveys estimate that only 2500 remain. This
is a decline of over 99.9%. The decline was caused by rampant
commercial overharvest. The white abalone represents a tragic
example of how poor fisheries management has reduced a once
abundant species to the verge of extinction.
few white abalone that remain in the wild are too far apart
to successfully reproduce. The maximum life span of an individual
white abalone is estimated to be between 30 and 40 years.
Thirty-five years have passed since the last known successful
recruitment of the species in 1966. Scientists have predicted
that the species will be extinct within 10 years unless immediate
action is taken. Recovery actions for the species could include
captive breeding and possibly relocating individuals so that
they are close enough together to breed.