The National Marine Fisheries Service on Thursday proposed the rule, which would prohibit a wide range of harmful activities including hunting, shooting, wounding, trapping or capturing.

Green sturgeon, listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act, are prized by poachers who sell caviar on the black market.

The proposal covers sturgeon in the Sacramento River, the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and that San Francisco Bay as well as Oregon and Washington.

It could force changes to Central Valley water management where pumps and dams can pose a threat to the fish.


NOAA Seeks Public Comment on Proposal to Protect Threatened Green Sturgeon

May 21, 2009

NOAA’s Fisheries Service is seeking public comment on a proposed rule that generally prohibits acts that would kill or harm a distinct group of North American green sturgeon that spawn in the Sacramento River.

A federal biologist holds a green sturgeon caught and released in San Pablo Bay, Calif., in 2002.

Listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act, this distinct segment of green sturgeon is found from Alaska to California but is only known to reproduce or spawn in California’s Sacramento River. Data indicate a steady decline of juvenile green sturgeon over the last 30 years. The major cause of decline is likely the loss of spawning habitat in California’s Central Valley.

Today’s proposed rule prohibits the “take” (harassing, harming, pursuing, hunting, shooting, wounding, killing, trapping, capturing, or collecting the fish, or any attempt to engage in such conduct) of these listed fish, apart from certain categories of activities that contribute to conservation of the species such as some types of scientific research, habitat restoration, or emergency fish rescue operations.

Green sturgeon is just one of over 20 species of sturgeon that have remained virtually unchanged for over 200 million years. They can reach lengths up to eight feet and live as long as 70 years. They reach sexual maturity at approximately 15 years of age and spawn every two to four years.

The effects of the proposed regulations on various aspects of the environment are analyzed in an environmental assessment. Both the proposed rule and draft assessment are found online.

Comments on the proposed rule and assessment must be received within 60 days, July 20, 2009. A public hearing will be held if any person requests it within 45 days of publication and the date and location will be announced in the Federal Register. Comments may be submitted by any of the following methods:

Electronic Public Comments via Federal eRulemaking Portal: Fax: 562-980-4027, Attn: Melissa Neuman Mail: Submit written comments to Chief, Protected Resources Division Attn: Melissa Neuman National Marine Fisheries Service Southwest Region
501 West Ocean Blvd., Suite 4200 Long Beach, CA 90802-4213

A list of reference materials for this proposed rule can be obtained online or by submitting a request to:

Assistant Regional Administrator, Protected Resources Division National Marine Fisheries Service Southwest Region
501 West Ocean Blvd., Suite 4200 Long Beach, CA 90802-4213

NOAA understands and predicts changes in the Earth's environment, from the depths of the ocean to the surface of the sun, and conserves and manages our coastal and marine resources.