Noting human-induced threats, NOAA proposes 4(d) rule to protect threatened green sturgeon population from take
74 Fed. Reg. 23822 / Vol. 74, No. 97 / Thursday, May 21, 2009
DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE / National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration / 50 CFR Part 223 / Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants: Proposed Rulemaking to Establish Take Prohibitions for the Threatened Southern Distinct Population Segment of North American Green Sturgeon
ACTION: Proposed rule; request for comments; notice of availability of a draft environmental assessment.
SUMMARY: Under section 4(d) of the Endangered Species Act (ESA), the Secretary of Commerce (Secretary) is required to adopt such regulations as he deems necessary and advisable for the conservation of species listed as threatened. This proposed ESA 4(d) rule represents the regulations that we, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), believe necessary and advisable to conserve the threatened Southern Distinct Population Segment of North American green sturgeon (Acipenser medirostris; hereafter Southern DPS). We propose to apply the prohibitions listed under ESA sections 9(a)(1)(A) through 9(a)(1)(G) for the Southern DPS, and we highlight specific categories of activities that are likely to result in take of Southern DPS fish. We do not find it necessary and advisable to apply the take prohibitions to certain categories of activities that contribute to conserving the Southern DPS. We also propose a variety of methods by which take of the Southern DPS may be authorized. We announce the availability of a draft environmental assessment (EA) that analyzes the environmental impacts of promulgating these proposed 4(d) regulations for the Southern DPS. Finally, we solicit comments regarding the draft EA and this proposed rule.
DATES: Comments regarding the proposed rule and supporting documents may be sent to the appropriate address or fax number (see ADDRESSES), no later than 5 p.m. Pacific Standard Time on July 20, 2009. A public hearing will be held promptly if any person so requests by July 6, 2009.
Green sturgeon have persisted for millions of years through cycles of naturally occurring perturbations that have likely presented short- and long-term challenges to the species’ survival. They are among the largest and longest living species found in freshwater, living up to 70 years and weighing up to 350 pounds. NOAA concluded that the threatened Southern DPS of North American green sturgeon is currently at risk of extinction primarily because of human-induced ‘‘takes’’ involving elimination of freshwater spawning habitat, degradation of freshwater and estuarine habitat quality, water diversions, fishing, and other causes. Therefore, NOAA further concluded that extending the take prohibitions to the Southern DPS is necessary and advisable. Photo by Daniel Gotschall from Environmental Protection Information Center
KEITHINKING: Poaching for caviar and recreational sportfishing remain significant threats to the green sturgeon, making a prohibition against take a necessity for protecting this ancient species.