Popular Posts

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Atlantic Sturgeon Proposed for Endangered Species Listing

NOAA’s Fisheries Service has proposed that five populations of Atlantic sturgeon along the U.S. East Coast receive protection under the federal Endangered Species Act. The endangered status is proposed for the Chesapeake Bay, New York Bight, Carolina, and South Atlantic populations. The Gulf of Maine population is proposed for listing as threatened.

Once listed, Atlantic sturgeon would receive the full protection of the Endangered Species Act, including a prohibition against “take,” defined to include harassing, harming, pursuing, wounding, killing, trapping, capturing, or collecting. Similar prohibitions usually extend to threatened species. An endangered listing offers protections designed to prevent extinction. For threatened populations, protections are focused on preventing a species from becoming endangered.

Atlantic sturgeon are large, slow-growing, late-maturing, long-lived, estuary-dependent fish that spend the majority of their lives in salt water, but spawn in freshwater. Historically, their range included major estuary and river systems from Labrador to Florida. Atlantic sturgeon populations currently exist in 35 U.S. rivers while spawning is believed to occur in only 20 of these. The range of an individual sturgeon can be very large regardless of where it was spawned making threats along the East Coast dangerous any of these populations.

NOAA’s Fisheries is accepting comments on the proposed listing through Jan. 4, 2011.

•Submit comments online via the Federal eRulemaking Portal at http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the instructions for submitting comments;
• Fax comments to the attention of Lynn Lankshear at 978-281-9394;
• Mail or hand deliver written comments to the Assistant Regional Administrator, Protected Resources Division, NMFS, Northeast Region, 55 Great Republic Drive, Gloucester, MA 01930.