MPBN reported on the new status of the fish. You can visit their website to hear the news clip in audiofile form. Photo is from the New Hampshire Fish and Game site.
Wolf Fish Targeted for Endangered Species ListTo find out more about the decline of the wolffish in Maine, go to the Gulf of Maine Census of Marine Life.
by Tom Porter
The Conservation Law Foundation and others today filed a petition seeking federal protection for the species that lives along the sea bed in the deep waters off New England. “This is a really good example of what happens when a species is on its way to extinction, when the population becomes contracted and fragmented.” University of Maine Marine Scientist Les Watling also signed the petition. Speaking at a tele-conference held to launch the petition, he said the excessive use by fishermen of bottom trawling, or rock-hopper gear as it's known, has destroyed much of the wolf-fish's natural habitat. “They like to nest under large boulders, so any habitat disturbance, for example, when rock-hopper gear comes along in these areas and tends to move a boulder or roll a boulder, and then a whole nest is vulnerable.”
The fierce-looking wolf-fish can grow up to 5 feet in length, and have long eel-like tails and sharp teeth that can eat a crab in a few swift bites. Peter Shelley, vice-president of the Conservation Law Foundation, says numbers have dropped dramatically in the last 20 years, and wolf-fish can now only be found in about 2 concentrated areas in New England waters. As a key predator, he says its extinction would be disastrous for the ecosystem. “It controls a lot of other species, which if they're left uncontrolled, can trigger cascading effects in the marine environment that are very destructive to fish populations and the health of the ocean.”
The federal government will now study the petition, and if successful, it would be the first time an ocean fish is listed as endangered in New England.
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