Fish & Wildlife Service Finds Bay-Delta Longfin Smelt Warrant Protection Under The Endangered Species Act

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) recently announced a 12-month finding on a petition to list the San Francisco Bay-Delta population of longfin smelt as endangered or threatened under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), finding that the Delta population of longfin smelt warranted ESA protection. The Service’s April 2, 2012, Federal Register notice of its 12-month finding is available here.

The Bay-Delta longfin smelt is a small fish, averaging approximately four inches in length, which is found in the San Francisco Bay-Delta, including Suisun Marsh and San Pablo Bay. The population of Bay-Delta longfin smelt has declined significantly in recent years. The Service’s 12-month finding identified a variety of threats to the Bay-Delta longfin smelt population, including habitat modification and the introduction of non-native species.

The Service found that listing of the Bay-Delta longfin smelt under the ESA is warranted but listing is currently precluded by higher priority actions. The Service added the Bay-Delta longfin smelt to its candidate species list, under which its status will be reviewed annually. Candidate species do not receive protection under the ESA, so the 12-month finding will not impose any new requirements or restrictions to protect the longfin smelt. However, the longfin smelt species is listed as a threatened species under the California Endangered Species Act, and is thus protected under state law. The Service stated that is will develop a proposed rule to list the the Bay-Delta longfin smelt under the ESA as its priorites allow. Any future proposal to add longfin smelt to the federal list of threatened or endangered species would be subject to public review and comment.

For more information regarding this matter, please contact Elizabeth Leeper or the KMTG attorney with whom you normally consult.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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