May 22, 2013Jones continues to question endangered status for Atlantic sturgeon
Rep. Walter Jones, R.-N.C., continues to push back against the National
Marine Fisheries Service’s (NMFS) ongoing effort to protect Atlantic
sturgeon as an endangered species under the Endangered Species
In February of 2012, NMFS decided to create a
Carolina “distinct population segment” of Atlantic sturgeon and to list
that segment as endangered.
Jones raised serious questions about the process and the suspect data the agency used to come to that decision.
the listing, the agency has started work on a variety of federal
regulations – including recovery actions, critical habitat
designations, and federal agency consultation requirements – that the
Endangered Species Act mandates to “recover” the species.
regulations could impose severe restrictions on Eastern North Carolina
commercial fishermen, and as a result, have a negative impact on the
In a letter sent to NMFS
Administrator Eric Schwaab on last week, Jones and two of his
Republican congressional colleagues from New Jersey – Reps. Frank
LoBiondo and Jon Runyan – asked for answers to a number of questions
about the agency’s deliberations on the regulations to implement the
ESA listing for sturgeon.
Many of the questions related
to the fact that the agency’s listing decision and subsequent
regulatory initiatives are moving forward even though a benchmark stock
assessment on the species has yet to be completed. That
assessment is still being developed by the Atlantic States Marine
Fisheries Commission (ASMFC).
“A lot of fishermen’s
livelihoods are at stake here,” said Jones. “The agency needs to
make sure they act prudently and with the best information
available. Rushing to judgment without having a good handle on
how many fish are actually in the water could unnecessarily put a lot
of people out of business, and we just cannot afford that during these