GLOUCESTER, Mass. (January 31, 2012) – The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association today designated the Atlantic sturgeon an endangered species, providing it greater legal protections, following a petition the Natural Resources Defense Council submitted in September 2009.
NOAA’s Fisheries Service today announced four subpopulations or distinct population segments of Atlantic sturgeon, which are treated as individual species under the law, will be listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act: the New York Bight, the Chesapeake Bay, the Carolina, and the South Atlantic. The northernmost distinct population segment, the Gulf of Maine, will be listed as threatened.
The prehistoric-looking Atlantic sturgeon can live past 60 years, grow to 14 feet, and weigh 800 pounds.
The following is a statement from Brad Sewell, Senior Attorney at the Natural Resources Defense Council:
“The Atlantic sturgeon survived the Ice Age but is now threatened with extinction. Despite a more than decade-old ban on fishing for the sturgeon, a host of other threats – including ongoing catch in other fisheries, habitat damage, pollution and the growing effects of climate change – have proved too challenging for the species to recover. By recognizing the fish’s endangered status, the federal government is giving this remarkable fish a fighting chance to live on into the 21st century.”