Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Atlantic Sturgeon Placed on Endangered Species List

Earlier this month, the National Marine Fisheries Service placed the Atlantic sturgeon on its Endangered Species list.

A little background - Atlantic sturgeon (Acipenser oxyrhynchus) is one of 26 species of sturgeon found on earth. It is native to the Atlantic and Gulf coasts of the United States, and uses rivers such as the Mississippi and gulf deltas for spawning. They can grow to 15 feet long, 850 pounds, and can survive upwards of 100 years.

Atlantic sturgeon were commonly caught in the 18th and 19th century for their meat and for their caviar. However, over-fishing caused their numbers to drop dramatically and a moratorium was enacted on all fishing of Atlantic sturgeon about 20 years ago.

So what is the significance of making them an Endangered Species now?

As Professor Ellen Pikitch, who runs the Institute for Ocean Conservation Science at Stony Brook University explains, placing them on the endangered list not only prevents fishing of the species, but prohibits activities such as navigation dredging or coastal/delta development that could effect Atlantic sturgeon.

Thus placing them on the list gives them further protection in hopes that their numbers can rebound and populations can be replenished along the Atlantic coast of the US.

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