For Immediate Release
November 3, 1999

Contact: Tom MacKenzie 404/679-7291

FISH EXPERTS DEVELOP STRATEGIES TO SLOW DECLINE OF SOUTHEASTERN IMPERILED FISH POPULATIONS

On October 26, 1999, an assembly of experts on southeastern imperiled fishes convened a 3-day workshop to develop strategies for addressing the continuing decline of southeastern fish populations.

Imperiled fishes are becoming all too common in the Southeast. Fish species are not just declining in the Amazon rainforest, they are also disappearing from the creeks and rivers we drive past everyday.

The imperiled fishes of the Southeast are symptomatic of problems faced by the entire nation. These species are critical indicators of environmental stresses, such as the loss of important natural habitat and the degradation of water quality.

Thirty percent of the North American species listed as threatened, endangered, or of special concern are found in the Southeast, and 22 percent of these (57) are found nowhere else on earth.

The participants in this workshop recognize that the current species decline is a precursor for more obvious and long-term problems concerning southeastern water quality and overall quality of life. The participants came together to develop strategies to reverse the trends.

Conference participants agreed that the following actions are essential to reverse the decline of southeastern fishes and their ecosystems, which are fundamental to the quality of life and economic prosperity of the American people:

  • Taking a proactive approach to conserving imperiled species to maximize our effectiveness in reversing these trends.
  • Cleaning up and restoring the natural state of small streams, creeks and estuaries to recover southeastern rivers.
  • Controlling the impact of storm water carrying pollutants from urban run-off, fertilizers, waste products, and erosion.
  • Creating collaborative partnerships and alliances because all conservation is local.
  • Providing sustained effort, focused attention, and ongoing research to reverse declining population trends.

The organizations participating in the Southeastern Imperiled Fishes Conservation Workshop included 16 state natural resource agencies, 10 federal resource and management agencies, 8 regional universities, and a variety of private, corporate, and non-profit entities. The workshop led to better understanding of organizational positions and philosophies. Participants gained respect for opposing positions, while reaching common ground around vision, strategies, and goals for restoring and protecting imperiled fish and ensuring clean water.

For more information on endangered fish: http://www.endangered.fws.gov.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal Federal agency responsible for conserving, protecting, and enhancing fish, wildlife and plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. The Service manages the 93- million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System comprised of more than 500 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands, and other special management areas. It also operates 66 national fish hatcheries, 64 fish and wildlife management assistance offices and 78 ecological services field stations. The agency enforces Federal wildlife laws, administers the Endangered Species Act, manages migratory bird populations, restores nationally significant fisheries, conserves and restores wildlife habitat such as wetlands, and helps foreign governments with their conservation efforts. It also oversees the Federal Aid program that distributes hundreds of millions of dollars in excise taxes on fishing and hunting equipment to state fish and wildlife agencies.

 

Release R99-86

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