Institute for Ocean Conservation Science Applauds Listing of Atlantic Sturgeon Under U.S. Endangered Species Act
The listing of five distinct population segments of Atlantic sturgeon by NOAA Fisheries Service will assist in the species’ recovery
February 1, 2012
STONY BROOK, NY, February 1, 2012 – The Institute for Ocean Conservation Science applauds the listing of Atlantic sturgeon by NOAA Fisheries Service under the U.S. Endangered Species Act (ESA), and calls the listing a critical step in the species’ fight for survival. On February 6, the final rule for five distinct population segments (DPSs) of Atlantic sturgeon populations will be published, listing the New York Bight, Chesapeake Bay, and Carolina DPSs as endangered and the Gulf of Maine and South Atlantic DPSs as threatened. A status review conducted in 2007 identified these five DPSs for Atlantic sturgeon, which are genetically and ecologically distinct groups of fish.
“Atlantic sturgeon have been teetering on the brink of extinction since they were severely depleted by fishing in the late1800s,” said Dr. Ellen K. Pikitch, Executive Director of the Institute for Ocean Conservation Science at Stony Brook University. “Management measures to assist in their recovery have not been sufficient; therefore, a U.S Endangered Species Act listing for these sturgeon will provide the mechanism needed to implement additional and better informed restoration efforts.
As is the case for most species of sturgeon, Atlantic sturgeon spawn in fresh water but spend the majority of their lives in the sea. Dr. Pikitch, who testified at a NOAA hearing in favor the ESA listing of the Atlantic sturgeon (http://tinyurl.com/7sqcneu), has conducted research on several species of sturgeon for more than a decade and co-authored a study of adult Atlantic sturgeon that were caught and tagged with pop-up satellite archival tags in the Hudson River and then released. The research results showed these fish move vast distances in the Atlantic Ocean, traveling as far south as Georgia and as far north as Nova Scotia, Canada. The findings indicate that recovery of Atlantic sturgeon fisheries will need to address long-range oceanic threats to the species in addition to local measures closer to spawning ground: http://tinyurl.com/6r7g9ml.
“Full recovery of these fish will take a long time, given their unique life history,” said Dr. Pikitch. “With the full force of the U.S. Endangered Species Act now added to the arsenal of protective measures, I am more optimistic than ever before that future generations will be able to see these ancient fish thriving once again off the shores of the East Coast.”
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