For Immediate Release, April 28, 2011
Contact: Noah Greenwald, (503) 484-7495
Lawsuit Launched to Protect Alabama Shad Under Endangered Species Act
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla.— The Center for Biological Diversity filed a formal notice of intent to sue the National Marine Fisheries Service today over the agency’s denial of Endangered Species Act protection for the Alabama shad. The pending lawsuit will challenge a February decision by the agency that a Center petition to protect the shad did not present sufficient information to warrant a further review of the shad’s status.
“There’s no question that the Alabama shad has undergone dramatic declines and needs Endangered Species Act protection to survive,” said Noah Greenwald, endangered species director with the Center. “The decision not to consider the shad for protection failed to follow either the law or the science.”
The Alabama shad once occurred in rivers from Florida to Oklahoma, but today only a handful of populations survive. The shad was once so abundant that it supported commercial fisheries in Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Indiana and Iowa. Dams, pollution and drought have caused widespread decline of the shad and continue to threaten its survival.
“Too many species that desperately need help are being denied protection,” said Greenwald. “We had hoped for better environmental protection from the Obama administration, but so far it has a dismal record on endangered species.”
To date the Obama government has only granted federal protection to 59 species, 48 of which occur on one Hawaiian island, for a rate of 29 species per year. In contrast, the Clinton administration protected 522 species, for a rate of 65 species per year.
Alabama shad spend most of their six-year life in the ocean, returning to freshwater rivers to breed. Juvenile shad remain in freshwater for the first six to eight months of their lives, feeding on small fishes and invertebrates. Populations of the shad are thought to remain in the Apalachicola River, Florida, the Choctawhatchee and Conecuh rivers, Alabama, the Pascagoula River, Mississippi, the Ouachita River, Arkansas, and the Missouri, Gasconade, Osage and Meramec rivers, Missouri.