NOAA finds listing of Atlantic wolffish may be warranted
74 Fed. Reg. 249 / Vol. 74, No. 2 / Monday, January 5, 2009 / Proposed Rules / DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE / National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration / 50 CFR Part 223 and 224 / Listing Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; 90–Day Finding on a Petition to List Atlantic Wolffish as Threatened or Endangered under the Endangered Species Act / Notice of petition finding; request for information.
SUMMARY: We, NMFS, announce a 90–day finding for a petition to list Atlantic wolffish (Anarhichas lupus) as endangered or threatened under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). We find that the petition presents substantial scientific information indicating the petitioned action may be warranted. We will conduct a status review of Atlantic wolffish to determine if the petitioned action is warranted. To ensure that the review is comprehensive, we solicit information pertaining to this species from any interested party.
Atlantic wolffish are Atlantic wolffish are a large, slow growing, and late maturing species distributed in the North Atlantic Ocean from the Northwest Atlantic Shelf region off North America, to Greenland, Iceland and the waters off of Northern Europe. Photo from Noodlepie
EXCERPT: According to the Petitioners, the Fundian Channel represents a significant barrier between the Gulf of Maine and Georges Bank and the Scotian Shelf subpopulations of Atlantic wolffish. They indicate that oceanographic features, such as the Fundian Channel, isolate subpopulations that are found in different areas, thereby leading to geographic and genetic isolation. Without corridors for mixing between these disparate subpopulations, migration and effective recruitment is limited, which could lead to the extirpation of subpopulations in the United States... According to the Petitioners, the United States population of Atlantic wolffish and the various subpopulations also satisfy the second and fourth significance factors from the DPS policy. They state that the U.S. DPS is significant because the loss of this population would result in a significant gap in the range of the taxon and in the loss of a subpopulation that exhibits unique characteristics indicative of genetic differences. They contend that the range of Atlantic wolffish in the Northwest Atlantic has contracted over the last 4 decades, and consequently, the range within the United States represents the southernmost extent of their historic range. As such, the loss of the U.S. DPS would represent a significant gap in the range of Atlantic wolffish. The Petitioners also note that the U.S. DPS and the subpopulations exhibit certain behavioral and physiological differences (noted above) that suggest there are underlying genetic differences... The Petitioners estimate that in the United States, between 1983 and 2004, the rate of decline of Atlantic wolffish was approximately 95 percent. The Northeast Fishery Science Center (NEFSC) bottom trawl survey biomass index has shown a significant decline that began in the mid- to late 1980s and has continued to present.