Fish species are declining from creeks and rivers of the Southeast United States at an alarming rate. Thirty percent of the North American species listed as threatened, endangered, or of special concern are found in the Southeast. More than 20% of these are found nowhere else on earth. Evidence points to this trend accelerating.

Recognizing that there is no blueprint for coordinated action to reverse this trend for imperiled species in the southeast, a working group of over 60 national fish and aquatic ecology experts gathered to create a starting point for a regional strategy. This team included a broad mix of academic experts, State fishery representatives, Federal government agencies, private industry and conservation organizations.

Workshop participants were challenged to create a consensus-based action plan that would be adaptable in a variety of situations throughout the region. No constraints were placed on workgroup discussions.

The working groups selected the following list of issues for sub-group review and action recommendations:

Chemical Habitat
Physical habitat
Biological Barriers
Managing Growth & Population
Political Socioeconomic Agenda
Public Relations & Outreach
Research Surveys
Coordination & Partnerships
Adaptive Management

The working team separated into subgroups, with each participant selecting the issue they were most interested in working on. Each sub-group discussed barriers, constraints, developed potential solutions to the issue and recommended additional partners that need to be involved in addressing the issue. Team recommendations were captured by the facilitation team.

Each sub-group presented recommendations to the entire working group on day three. The entire working group rated each recommendation using a real-time 1-10 scale to indicate the degree of support.

Significant findings included:

There was strong consensus that the document had captured the essential issues. While some polishing remains necessary, the critical issues necessary to complete the plan have been captured.

This draft document will be circulated to members of the working team for review and comment and developed to produce a final plan for restoration and recovery of Imperiled Species in the Southeast.

This document formed the foundation for specific actions and initiatives that will conserve, restore and recover imperiled species in the southeast United States.

Post session feedback was extremely positive, both about the focus of the session, the rapid exchange of ideas and strong support for it’s recommendations.