US moves to protect sturgeon in Sacramento River

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Associated Press

Posted on June 2, 2010 at 3:31 PM

SACRAMENTO, California (AP) — New federal regulations will soon prohibit catching, killing or harming the rare caviar-producing North American green sturgeon.

The sturgeon are listed as threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act. They are found from Alaska to California, but they reproduce only in the Sacramento River.

The new protections were published Wednesday in the Federal Register.

The National Marine Fisheries Service says the species has survived nearly unchanged for 200 million years. But its population has dwindled the last 25 years largely because of loss of spawning habitat.

Sturgeon are prized by poachers who sell caviar on the black market. The bony fish can grow to eight feet long (2.4 meters) and live 70 years.

The new rules will take effect in 30 days.

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