NOAA Issues Proposed Rules Designating Habitat for Atlantic Sturgeon

noaaHYANNIS – 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.

“Protecting endangered and threatened species, including sturgeon, is one of our core missions,” said Eileen Sobeck, assistant NOAA administrator for fisheries. “Sturgeon need this habitat to recover, and these designations give us an important additional conservation tool. Fully recovering Atlantic sturgeon in the future will take partnerships with state and federal agencies, the scientific community, and the public, but designating critical habitat is another step in the right direction.”

The ESA requires that NOAA Fisheries designate critical habitat when a species is listed as threatened or endangered.

Under the ESA, critical habitat is defined as geographic areas that are occupied by the species, and that contain features essential to the conservation of that species.

Critical habitat can also include geographical areas that are not currently occupied by the species, but that are essential to its conservation.

The proposed designation of critical habitat does not include any new restrictions or management measures for recreational or commercial fishing operations.

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