The United States National Marine Fisheries Service has refused to provide federal protection for the pinto abalone even though conservation groups have launched a petition to list the marine animal as endangered, according to the Associated Press.
The government agency maintained that the species is not in danger of extinction and should not be covered by the Endangered Species Act. The pinto abalone is a marine snail measuring six inches in length. It is commonly found in Alaska and Baja California.
In July of 2013, two conservationist organizations, namely the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Center for Biological Diversity, submitted a petition to notify the government agency that the pinto abalone population has decreased.
According to the two groups, various factors such as overfishing and the effects of climate change on ocean conditions have greatly contributed to the animal's decline.
Poaching is also a problem since the demand for the pinto abalone's mother of pearl shell is high.
The organizations then decided to call on the government to protect the species through the federal law in order to conserve it.
However, after conducting its own study on the pinto abalone, the National Marine Fisheries Service noted that the species is not in danger of dying out, Design & Trend reported.
"Over-harvest and inadequate enforcement has impacted the abundance and population growth of wild populations, but not to the point that the species is likely at risk of extinction now or in the foreseeable future," the agency announced in a statement.
After learning about the agency's response, the Natural Resources Defense Council's senior attorney Brad Sewell said that not enacting conservation efforts now for the pinto abalone might have dire consequences for the species in the future.
"While I'm still reviewing the decision, it is discouraging," he said in a statement. "I don't know if the agency is going to wait until the species nears extinction, and if that's the case, it's a poor strategy."
"These are species that science shows ocean acidification and climate change are going to do it in," Sewell added. "The only way of saving the species is to address the health of the species early on and get it back to robust diverse populations."