NOAA Fisheries seeks public comment for green sturgeon recovery plan

CENTRAL CALIFORNIA — The public will be able to comment on a recovery plan for green sturgeon through March 12, according to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fisheries.

NOAA Fisheries labeled green sturgeon as “one of Central California’s most ancient fish” and a species in need of recovery.

“The green sturgeon will soon have a new recovery plan to steer it toward sustainability,” NOAA Fisheries staff stated in an official notice.

A non-regulatory draft recovery plan was under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) was released by NOAA Fisheries, Jan. 9. The plan, according to NOAA Fisheries, “will promote recovery of the green sturgeon’s depressed southern population.”

Federal biologists determined the “southern population” of green sturgeon was mostly found in Central California.

“In 2006, the southern population – covering Central California – was listed as threatened under the ESA,” NOAA Fisheries staff stated. “The northern population was more abundant and listing was not warranted at the time.”

The proposed recovery effort would focus on threats to spawning and rearing habitats. An estimated 1,300 green sturgeon remain in Central California. The species primarily lives in near shore waters off the California, Oregon and Washington coasts.

“Like other sturgeon and salmon species, they are anadromous, meaning they return every few years from the ocean to freshwater rivers to spawn (unlike salmon, sturgeon don’t die after they spawn),” NOAA Fisheries staff stated. “This southern population has declined over the last several decades due largely to both habitat loss and dams that have blocked access to their traditional spawning areas.

“Most spawning adult sturgeon are found in the Sacramento River. This singular concentration of spawning adults puts the southern population at greater risk of being wiped out by a single catastrophic event,” NOAA Fisheries staff continued.

Green sturgeons generally start reproducing at age 15 and could live as long as 50 years. Some green sturgeon could grow to about 7 feet in size and weigh as much as 350 pounds.

“Because they are long-lived and slow growing, scientists may not see evidence of rebounding abundance for years,” NOAA Fisheries staff stated.

Comments on the draft recovery plan can be submitted to The deadline for comments is midnight (Eastern Time), March 12.

The draft recovery plan could be viewed online at NOAA Fisheries’ green sturgeon website,

NOAA Fisheries photo

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