PORTLAND, Maine - Federal fishing regulators are proposing to designate the waters of several Maine rivers as critical habitat for Atlantic sturgeon. The designation is also proposed for other Atlantic coast waterways further south.
The anadromous fish, which mature in estuaries and marine waters but return to rivers to spawn, are listed as a threatened species in the Gulf of Maine, and as endangered in other areas.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is proposing to protect the Atlantic sturgeon's river habitat in Maine, including parts of the Penobscot, Androscoggin, Kennebec, and Piscataqua rivers.
"Sturgeon need this habitat to recover," says NOAA Fisheries assistant administrator Eileen Sobeck, in a press release, "and these designations give us an important additional conservation tool."
Under the designation, Atlantic sturgeon habitat would have to be protected from such disruptions as the operation of dams, dredging, bridge construction or repair, and impacts from development along the rivers, officials say.
In Maine, a public informational meeting on the proposed designation will be held July 18 at the Gulf of Maine Research Institute in Portland, and a public hearing is scheduled for July 21 in Gloucester, Massachusetts.