A federal proposal to designate portions of coastal rivers in North Carolina as habitat essential to the survival of the endangered Atlantic sturgeon will not add another layer of regulations for fishermen, boaters, dredgers and others using those rivers, federal officials say.

Officials with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released a proposal earlier this month to designate critical habitats for sturgeon in coastal rivers along the East Coast. About 915 miles of waterways in the Yadkin-Pee Dee, Waccamaw, Cape Fear, Northeast Cape Fear, Black, Neuse, Tar-Pamlico and Roanoke rivers in North Carolina are included in the designation.

Required by the federal Endangered Species Act, the designation is meant to protect spawning, foraging and other areas that are important to the survival of the fish. The sturgeon was listed as endangered in 2012.

A public hearing on the proposal will be held 7 p.m. Thursday at the Crystal Coast Civic Center in Morehead City. It will be the only hearing in North Carolina. Comments on the proposal can be submitted to NOAA until Sept. 1.

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