The Penguin Post has learned that this past week the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced the New Zealand/Australia distinct population segment of the southern rockhopper penguin is now protected as threatened under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), following publication of a final listing determination in the Federal Register.
The New Zealand/Australia distinct population segment of southern rockhopper penguin is found in the sub-antarctic region south of these two countries. The population size of this species, which breeds on the Macquarie, Campbell, Aukland and Antipodes Island groups, has declined by approximately 90 percent since the 1940’s and continues to shrink.
This action follows a thorough review of the best available scientific information from researchers, peer reviewers and the general public, as well as any new information received during a public comment period which followed publication of the proposed rule to list this species. The specific cause of the declining trend has not been identified, but information indicates that changes in the marine environment, such as prey availability, productivity or sea temperatures are the primary factors contributing to the decline.
Granting foreign species protection under the ESA means that the import or export of any of the species, or their parts or products, as well as their sale in interstate or foreign commerce, is prohibited. Permits for these prohibited actions are required for specific purposes consistent with the ESA.
The final rule will publish in the Federal Register on February 22, 2011, and become effective on March 24, 2010.
The ESA provides a critical safety net for native fish, wildlife and plants and to date has prevented the extinction of hundreds of imperiled species across the nation, as well as promoting the recovery of many others. The Service is actively engaged with conservation partners and the public in the search for improved and innovative ways to conserve and recover imperiled species. To learn more about the Service’s implementation of the ESA, go to http://www.fws.gov/endangered/.
The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals and commitment to public service. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit www.fws.gov.