Blogs > Docket > Riverkeeper urges Fisheries Service to expand ‘critical habitat’ for Atlantic sturgeon

Riverkeeper urges Fisheries Service to expand ‘critical habitat’ for Atlantic sturgeon

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Photo: Dave Conover / Clearwater
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Photo: Dave Conover / Clearwater

Photo: Dave Conover / Clearwater

Atlantic sturgeon have a long, rich history in the Hudson River and beyond – and we have a new and important opportunity to protect them.

In 2012, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) listed several distinct population segments of Atlantic sturgeon as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act. When a species is listed, the agency must, if possible, identify the geographic areas that are necessary to conserve the species and that may require special management or protection. These areas are known as critical habitat. The New York Bight distinct population segment of Atlantic sturgeon, which is found in the Hudson River, was among those that NMFS listed as endangered in 2012. At the time, the agency was unable to determine any critical habitat.

However, earlier this year, NMFS proposed designating the main stem of the Hudson River from the Federal Dam in Troy, NY to the mouth of the River at the New York Harbor as critical habitat for endangered Atlantic sturgeon. The proposal is promising – it protects 246 river kilometers of habitat – but it could, and should, go further. In comments submitted yesterday, Riverkeeper recommended that NMFS expand the critical habitat designation as follows:

• Broaden the habitat criteria for adult Atlantic sturgeon to include soft-bottom areas (i.e., “sand waves”).

• Broaden and clarify the habitat criteria for juvenile Atlantic sturgeon.

• Include marine waters where Atlantic sturgeon are known to congregate.

• Include certain tributaries and tributary segments of the Hudson River.

Riverkeeper also urged NMFS to fully examine the impacts that growing and significant uses, like the proposed Hudson River anchorages, would have on Atlantic sturgeon critical habitat.

Click here to read Riverkeeper’s comments to the Fisheries Service.

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