WASHINGTON (CN) – Despite depletion of its population, and a 50 percent decline in its average size, the Atlantic wolffish will not be given protection under the Endangered Species Act.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service assembled a special Biological Review Team after it first determined that sufficient evidence was presented in a petition by the Conservation Law Foundation to warrant further investigation into the wolffish’s status. The Review Team found it unlikely that the wolffish faced extinction due to overfishing, insufficient genetic diversity or alteration in habitat.
The Review Team pointed out that wolffish populations have been volatile in the past, as have estimates of fish size. Also, according to the team, conservation actions have been put in place to reduce bycatch of the wolfish, such as mandatory live release requirements and restrictions on trawl fishing in particular areas where ground fish populations have declined.
The wolffish is a fearsome looking creature whose lower and upper jaw are armed with four to six fang-like, conical teeth followed by three rows of crushing teeth. Serrated teeth also scatter its throat. These teeth enable the wolffish to eat hardshell mollusks, cockles and hermit crabs, and be an important predator of sea urchins and green crabs, whose populations may escalate rapidly and negatively affect the health of a marine system.