ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — The federal government says it will consider endangered or threatened species status for a 6-inch marine snail that lives in waters from Alaska to Baja California.
The National Marine Fisheries Service announced last week it will conduct the status review of pinto abalone.
The move comes after the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Center for Biological Diversity petitioned for greater protections for the pinto abalone.
Center spokeswoman Kiersten Lippman says the snails were a traditional Native American food prized for their mother-of-pearl shell.
She says the species has declined up to 99 percent in much of their range because of unsustainable fishing in the 1980s and 1990s.
The petitions say poaching, climate change and ocean acidification continue to be threats.
The agency deadline for proposing a listing is July 1.