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Atlantic Sturgeon: Delaware Riverkeeper Network & NRDC v. Dept of Commerce and NMFS

When the Atlantic sturgeon, a large fish with armor-like bony plates and long protruding snout, was listed as an endangered species under the federal Endangered Species Act in February 2012, the federal government (National Marine Fisheries Service or NMFS) failed to timely designate critical habitat for the species. Designation and protection of critical habitat is essential to the conservation of the Atlantic Sturgeon as critical habitat includes those areas where the Atlantic sturgeon spawns, feeds, seeks shelter, or carries out other essential life functions.

In March 2014, the Delaware Riverkeeper Network (DRN) and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) brought a law suit to compel the federal government to comply with its obligation to designate critical habitat for the Atlantic Sturgeon.

December 2014, DRN and NRDC settled our legal action with NMFS agreeing to publish a proposed rule designating critical habitat by November 30, 2015, with a final rule due a year later.

DRN will continue to monitor the proposed rule to ensure that activities like dredging and blasting projects – which can destroy benthic feeding areas, disrupt spawning migrations, and harm rock substrates that are necessary for egg adhesion – can longer adversely affect Atlantic sturgeon critical habitat.