Critical Habitat for Gulf Sturgeon
NOAA Fisheries and the U.S. FWS collectively “the Services,” designate critical habitat for the Gulf sturgeon (Acipenser oxyrinchus desotoi), a threatened species listed under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act). We designate 14 geographic areas among the Gulf of Mexico rivers and tributaries as critical habitat for the Gulf sturgeon. These 14 geographic areas (units) encompass approximately 2,783 river kilometers (rkm) (1,730 river miles (rmi)) and 6,042 square kilometers (sq km) (2,333 square miles (sq mi)) of estuarine and marine habitat.
Critical habitat identifies specific areas that are essential to the conservation of a listed species, and that may require special management considerations or protection. Section 7(a)(2) of the Act requires that each Federal agency shall, in consultation with and with the assistance of the Services, insure that any action authorized, funded or carried out by such agency is not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of an endangered or threatened species or result in the destruction or adverse modification of critical habitat. Section 4 of the Act requires us to consider economic and other relevant impacts of specifying any particular area as critical habitat. We solicited data and comments from the public on all aspects of the proposal, including data on economic and other impacts of the designation.