October 2, 2008

Protection Sought for Atlantic Wolffish

The Conservation Law Foundation is leading an effort to put the Atlantic wolffish on the U.S. endangered species list.

The fish, which has a long eel-like tail and a mouth full of large canine teeth, is threatened with extinction off the New England coast because of over-harvesting and habitat loss due to commercial trawling, the group said Wednesday in a news release.

The number of wolffish landed by commercial fishermen has dropped 95 percent from more than 1,200 metric tons in 1983 to just 64.7 metric tons in 2007.

"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," the foundation's Peter Shelley said in a statement.