Federal Government Schedules Public Hearings for Proposal to List Atlantic Sturgeon as Endangered Species

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s  Fisheries Service will hold four public hearings over the course of the next two weeks to hear from the public about the recent proposal to list the Atlantic sturgeon as endangered. 

The hearings will be held at the following locations:

Portland, Maine November 3, 2010 7 to 9 p.m.  Eastland Park Hotel, 157 High Street

Newport News, Virginia November 4, 2010 7 to 9 p.m. Point Plaza Suites at City Center, 950 J. Clyde Morris Boulevard

Stony Brook, New York November 8, 2010 7 to 9 p.m. SUNY Stony Brook, School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences, 100 Nicholls Road

Wilmington, Delaware November 9, 2010 7 to 9 p.m. Doubletree Hotel Wilmington Downtown, 700 North King Street

If you can, please attend one of these hearings and voice your support for the listing proposal and for protecting the Atlantic sturgeon.  The Fisheries Service says that it is also interested in gathering information at these hearings about the “abundance and distribution of these fish, viability of and threats to them, and efforts underway to protect Atlantic sturgeon belonging to these populations.”

Last September, NRDC petitioned the federal government to list the Atlantic sturgeon because populations of the gargantuan fish (it can grow to 14 feet and 800 pounds) had plummeted as a result of bycatch, pollution, dams, dredging, and ship strikes. Early last month, NMFS agreed.  It proposed to list four out of five so-called distinct population segments (DPSs) of Atlantic sturgeon – spanning from the South Atlantic up to the New York Bight – as endangered, which is the most protective designation under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).  The agency is proposing to list the Gulf of Maine DPS, at the northern end of the species’ U.S. range, as threatened. 

See my previous blogs for more about this fascinating species and NRDC’s effort to get it protected status.  The federal government also has additional information about the public hearings and the proposed listing here.