HELPING TO SAVE BLACK ALBALONE

endangered speciesThe National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) has selected two Department of Fish and Game (DFG) scientists to serve on the black abalone recovery team. Ian Taniguchi and Dr. Jim Moore will join a team of experts who are tasked with developing a recovery plan for black abalone, which was listed as a federally endangered species in January 2009.

“Because of Mr. Taniguchi's extensive knowledge of black abalone life history, population dynamics and conservation, and Dr. Moore's extensive knowledge of abalone diseases and effects on wild populations, their direct participation will contribute significantly to the recovery efforts for this species,” said Rodney R. McInnis, NMFS Regional Administrator.

The recovery team will collect the best available information regarding the black abalone in order to evaluate current and future threats, propose actions to reduce or eliminate the threats and develop criteria to determine the abalone's recovery. The recovery plan is scheduled to be completed in January 2014.

Black abalone inhabit intertidal waters along the Pacific coast. They were once very abundant, but since the 1980s their numbers have plummeted, causing DFG to close commercial and recreational harvesting of the species in 1993. The abalone's decline is likely due to overfishing, poaching and a bacterial disease called withering syndrome, which thrives in warmer coastal waters. Climate change and effluent from power plants may be contributing factors to the warming of California's coastal waters, which is detrimental to the black abalone.

Taniguchi, an environmental scientist in DFG's Marine Region in Los Alamitos, has worked on abalone recovery and management since 1992. He started his career with DFG as a seasonal aide working on the San Francisco Bay herring assessment project. He has also worked as a contract biologist with the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission, working on the commercial red sea urchin fishery assessment project, and as a marine biologist, working on the Nearshore Invertebrate Evaluation Project in Southern California. Taniguchi majored in zoology with an emphasis in marine biology at UC Berkeley, where he learned SCUBA diving and scientific diving techniques.

Moore, a shellfish pathologist with DFG's Fisheries Branch, joined DFG in 1999 and runs the DFG Shellfish Health Laboratory in Bodega Bay. His work centers on managing diseases in wild and cultured shellfish populations, thus preventing the spread of disease and invasive species. Dr. Moore received his doctorate from the University of Washington in 1993 and held previous appointments with the National Research Institute of Aquaculture in Japan and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Northwest Fisheries Science Center in Seattle.