NOAA concedes: sturgeon not endangered

Without a stock assessment and to howls of outrage by industry and questions about the justification of the action by the New England Fishery Management Council, NOAA approved a petition by the Natural Resources Defense Council 15 months ago that granted Atlantic sturgeon protection under the Endangered Species Act.

Now, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration decided that its Jan. 31, 2012 action — declaring the sturgeon endangered along the entire Atlantic Coast except in the Gulf of Maine, where it was only “threatened” — was premature and may not have been necessary.

The agency last week published a draft biological opinion that in effect contradicts its original decision, and has opened a 60-day comment period on the finding of “no jeopardy” to the sturgeon from major fisheries.

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