Scientists from the federal fisheries lab in La Jolla have reported a serious decline of white abalone along the San Diego coastline, confirming some of the worst fears about the species as it slides toward extinction.
“In the absence of fishing, we hoped to see the population stabilize or increase,” said Kevin Stierhoff, a biologist at NOAA’s Southwest Fisheries Science Center, and lead author of a new article in the journal Biological Conservation. “However, our latest assessment using data collected in 2008 and 2010 indicates that the white abalone population has continued to decline by approximately 78 percent over the last ten years.”
In 2001, white abalone became the first marine invertebrate listed under the Endangered Species Act. The mollusk was once abundant off the coasts of Baja and Southern California, thriving in waters 15 to 200 feet deep.
“The continuing decline 30 years after the last major commercial harvest demonstrates that the strategy of benign neglect, or allowing the population to recover without intervention, has clearly failed,” the research study said.
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