After years of declining populations, five populations of Atlantic Sturgeon have been officially declared endangered under the Endangered Species Act; a sixth segment has been declared “threatened.”
It’s been a long road to endangered status for the slow-moving, long lived species. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reports that there were some 180,000 adult female spawning sturgeon in 1890 in the Delaware River alone; most recently that figure has dropped to fewer than 300.
NOAA determined that stocks were historically low in 2007, so it was petitioned to declare the Atlantic sturgeon endangered in 2009. The agency sought public comment in 2010, and after examining data and additional information submitted, the species has now been listed as endangered.
While fishing for the sturgeon has been banned for more than a decade, the endangered status gives the species a fuller protection, including a prohibition against any kind of ‘take,’ which includes “harassing, harming, pursuing, wounding, killing, trapping, capturing, or collecting.”
The US Fish and Wildlife Service lists 77 endangered and 68 threatened species of fish in the U.S.. Worldwide, fish stocks have experienced a dramatic decline, decimated by overfishing, habitat destruction and pollution.