SAN FRANCISCO (CN) – Environmentalists want habitat protected for a once-common abalone whose population has declined by 99 percent since the late 1970s. The black abalone, which once lived along the Pacific Coast from Oregon to Baja California, was harvested almost to extinction and faces additional threats of global warming and ocean acidification, the Center for Biological Diversity says.
Populations of the big, edible mollusk have also declined due to “withering syndrome” in warmer waters and is likely to devastate the abalone as sea temperatures rise, the group says.
Rising sea levels also threaten to obliterate the intertidal and subtidal pools where the abalone live, their lawsuit claims.
The abalone became an endangered species candidate in 1999 and was listed as endangered in 2009 after the center’s 2006 petition.
The Commerce Department provided notice of a 1-year extension in declaring critical habitat for the mollusk after its January 2009 listing, but the year has gone by and the department still has nothing to show, the center says.
Without conservation, the species may become extinct within 30 years, the group says. It adds that species with critical habitat designations are twice as likely to recover.
Represented by Catherine Kilduff, the center seeks declaratory and injunctive relief for habitat designation.