by Alicia Pimental
January 31, 2012
The federal government has officially declared the Chesapeake Bay’s Atlantic sturgeon – a bony, ancient-looking fish that has been around since dinosaurs roamed the earth – an endangered species.
(Image courtesy Virginia Institute of Marine Science)
NOAA Fisheries Service officially listed the Bay’s Atlantic sturgeon population under the federal Endangered Species Act. The endangered listing will prompt action to help reduce bycatch of sturgeon and other species by commercial fisheries. It is already illegal to fish for, catch or keep Atlantic sturgeon.
Atlantic sturgeon is a slow-growing fish that relies on the Chesapeake Bay and other estuaries to spawn. Historic fishing records indicate that sturgeon used to be abundant. However, increased demand for sturgeon caviar in the late 19th century combined with damming and pollution led to a population collapse.
For more information about the endangered species listing, visit NOAA Fisheries Service’s website.