WASHINGTON (CN) – The National Marine Fisheries Service plans to designate nearly 400 square meters along the shore of California as critical habitat for the endangered black abalone.
Black abalone inhabit coastal and offshore island intertidal areas on exposed rocky shores where bedrock provides deep, protective crevice shelter from waves and predation, usually down stream from offshore kelp beds that provide their major food source.
The agency identified the spread of a disease called Withering Syndrome as the cause of the decimation of nearly 80 percent of the extant population along the coast of Mexico and California, when it listed the species as endangered under the Endangered Species Act, in January 2009.
The agency did not designate critical habitat at the time of listing, and the Center for Biological Diversity, which filed the original petition to list the black abalone as endangered, filed suit to force it to make a designation.
Critical habitat status protects designated areas from development and requires increased scrutiny of permits for activity in, or near the area that might harm features of the landscape that make it ideal fro the growth and development of the species.