Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Atlantic Wolffish: Fearsome Fish That Deserve Protection?

Date:
October 13, 2008
Source:
Conservation Law Foundation
Summary:
A group has filed a scientific petition with the federal government seeking endangered species protection for the Atlantic wolffish, a fish threatened with extinction due to years of overharvesting and habitat loss due to modern fishing gear. If the petition is successful, this will be the first listing of a marine fish as an endangered in New England.

With a long eel-like tail and a mouth full of large canine teeth, the wolffish (Anarhichas lupus) is one of New England 's most unique ocean fish species and also one of the most endangered.
Credit: Image courtesy of Conservation Law Foundation

The Conservation Law Foundation (CLF) and others have just filed* a scientific petition with the federal government seeking endangered species protection for the Atlantic wolffish, a fish threatened with extinction due to years of overharvesting and habitat loss due to modern fishing gear. If the petition is successful, this will be the first listing of a marine fish as an endangered in New England.

With a long eel-like tail and a mouth full of large canine teeth, the wolffish (Anarhichas lupus) is one of New England ’s most unique ocean fish species and also one of the most endangered. CLF’s petition cites federal and independent scientific studies that show, over the past twenty years, dramatic declines in wolffish population and destruction of the deep underwater habitat that the fish needs to successfully reproduce and survive.

Based on all available science, Atlantic wolffish are rapidly headed toward extinction in New England ’s ocean waters,” said Peter Shelley , CLF Vice President and Senior Attorney. “The dramatic decline in wolffish is a troubling indication that while there is some good news about marine species like haddock and sea scallops that have been successfully restored, our ocean’s long term health continues to hang for other species by a precarious balance. Key species like the wolffish and endangered whales remain in serious jeopardy.”

According to federal statistics, the number of wolffish landed by commercial fishermen has dropped 95% from over 1,200 metric tons in 1983 to just 64.7 metric tons in 2007. More critically, wolffish have virtually disappeared from the annual scientific research trawls that take place twice a year in the state and federal waters of the Atlantic Ocean off the New England coast. In addition to fishing, habitat alterations are also suspected as a major threat to the wolffish. One scientist has estimated that virtually every inch of the seafloor in New England ’s ocean waters was impacted by commercial trawling (in which football field-sized nets are dragged through the ocean) between 1984 and 1990.

Given the widespread destruction of seafloor habitat in the Gulf of Maine, the habitat available to sustain Atlantic wolffish populations has been greatly reduced,” wrote marine scientist and co-petitioner Dr. Les Watling in a scientific affidavit attached to the petition. “Absent some action to reduce or eliminate the destruction of seafloor habitat in the few remaining areas of United States waters that harbor remnant populations of the Atlantic wolffish, it is probable that it will be faced with extinction in those waters in the near future.”

The wolffish, which has evolved with natural anti-freeze to keep its blood flowing in the 250-400 foot deep, ice-cold water it calls home, can live up to 20 years and weigh as much as 40 pounds. Unlike most fish which broadcast millions of eggs into the water to be fertilized by the male and then abandoned to their fate, wolffish pair up to reproduce and fertilization is believed to occur inside the female. After they are laid on the ocean floor, the male then protects the eggs and young in a nest for four to nine months.

We can't afford to lose the Atlantic wolffish and the unique role it plays in regulating other species in the ocean ecosystem,” said Dr. Erica Fuller, a co-petitioner. “Our petition presents the federal government with the opportunity to take targeted action in very specific places to protect and restore the existing populations of this special fish.”

An endangered species listing under the Endangered Species Act would require federal agencies to implement a recovery plan to protect and restore the wolffish, as well as to designate and protect critical habitat on which they depend for survival.

*October 1, 2008


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Conservation Law Foundation. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Conservation Law Foundation. "Atlantic Wolffish: Fearsome Fish That Deserve Protection?." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 13 October 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/10/081002091915.htm>.
Conservation Law Foundation. (2008, October 13). Atlantic Wolffish: Fearsome Fish That Deserve Protection?. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/10/081002091915.htm
Conservation Law Foundation. "Atlantic Wolffish: Fearsome Fish That Deserve Protection?." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/10/081002091915.htm (accessed April 23, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Leopard Bites Man in India

Raw: Leopard Bites Man in India

AP (Apr. 22, 2014) A leopard caused panic in the city of Chandrapur on Monday when it sprung from the roof of a house and charged at rescue workers. (April 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Iowa College Finds Beauty in Bulldogs

Iowa College Finds Beauty in Bulldogs

AP (Apr. 22, 2014) Drake University hosts 35th annual Beautiful Bulldog Contest. (April 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
805-Pound Shark Caught Off The Coast Of Florida

805-Pound Shark Caught Off The Coast Of Florida

Newsy (Apr. 22, 2014) One Florida fisherman caught a 805-pound shark off the coast of Florida earlier this month. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Breakfast Foods Are Getting Pricier

Breakfast Foods Are Getting Pricier

AP (Apr. 21, 2014) Breakfast is now being served with a side of sticker shock. The cost of morning staples like bacon, coffee and orange juice is on the rise because of global supply problems. (April 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins