If I am remembering correctly, today we have a new milestone to recognize with the Obama Administration: their first listing proposal of a species in need of added protection. The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) is proposing that the population of eulachon found in Washington, Oregon and California waters be considers a distinct population and that it be listed as Threatened under the Endangered Species Act. (announcement available here). You might also know eulachon as candlefish, Columbia River smelt and hooligan – my particular favorite.
Part of the reason for mentioning this here is to highlight a contrast with the last administration. During the past eight years, there was a dramatic and dangerous dearth of listing activity – leaving hundreds of species in need to either wait on the candidate list or go with absolutely no review or protection. Preventing protection was one of their many sad legacies that we must overcome. Much more work needs to be done to meet our responsibility to our children and grandchildren to protect endangered species and the places they call home.
So it is with some optimism that I view today’s announcement as perhaps the first step by the Obama Administration in resuscitating the listing program. We surely will have our disagreements – and already have - but we are looking forward to working together to help protect imperiled species and are happy to see progress already being made.
About the proposed listing
The fish is thought to actually benefit from some effort already underway for the sake of other fish, such as salmon. But not enough apparently. According to the Fisheries Service, the main threat the fish faces is global warming, which is altering ocean conditions. They are also being caught as bycatch from the shrimping industry.
The proposal for listing was spurred by a petition from the Cowlitz Indian Tribe.
There is now a 60 day comment period open. NMFS is also gathering information regarding where critical habitat should be designated and if you’ve seen any in Northern California lately. So, keep an eye out when your next on the Klamath.