On June 2, NOAA Fisheries announced two proposed rules to designate critical habitat for five distinct population segments of federally listed Atlantic sturgeon.
NOAA Fisheries is proposing to protect important river habitat for the threatened Gulf of Maine population segment and the endangered population segments of the New York Bight, Chesapeake Bay, Carolina and South Atlantic. NOAA Fisheries listed the Atlantic sturgeon under the Endangered Species Act in 2012.
The ESA requires that NOAA Fisheries designate critical habitat when a species is listed as threatened or endangered.
The proposed designation of critical habitat does not include any new restrictions or management measures for recreational or commercial fishing operations.
The Atlantic sturgeon is an anadromous species that remains primarily in coastal and estuarine waters during much of the year, and travels to rivers to spawn or lay their eggs. They can grow up to 14 feet, weigh up to 800 pounds, and live up to 60 years.
The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) manages Atlantic sturgeon under a Fishery Management Plan. In 1998, the Commission instituted a coast-wide moratorium on the harvest of Atlantic sturgeon. NOAA Fisheries followed the ASMFC moratorium with a similar moratorium for Federal waters.
NOAA Fisheries is soliciting comments for the rule covering the Gulf of Maine, New York Bight, and Chesapeake Distinct Population Segments.
On July 13, 2016, a public informational meeting will be held at the Environmental Protection Agency, Information and Conference Center, 410 Severn Avenue, Annapolis, MD 21403 from 2-4pm.
On July 18, 2016, a public informational meeting will be held at the Gulf of Maine Research Institute, Cohen Center, 350 Commercial Street, Portland, Maine 04101 from 3-5pm.
For more information, visit www.greateratlantic.fisheries.noaa.gov
source: NOAA Fisheries