The Center for Biological Diversity has petitioned for federal Endangered Species Act protection for lake sturgeon, a species found in the Great Lakes and Mississippi River drainage. For more than a decade, University of Michigan researchers have been part of a multi-partner effort to help restore populations of lake sturgeon in Southeast Michigan's St. Clair and Detroit rivers by building rock spawning reefs.
Jim Diana is a fishery biologist, director of the Michigan Sea Grant program and emeritus professor at the U-M School for Environment and Sustainability. He began conducting lake sturgeon research on the St. Clair River system in the early 1990s.
"Currently, lake sturgeon are the subject of a lot of management actions that would be difficult or even impossible if they were listed as a threatened species," he said. "The program of catching sturgeon to remove eggs and sperm for hatchery breeding, releasing them into natural waters from such hatchery programs, and even work like we have done to evaluate the success of artificial reefs for spawning of lake sturgeon would be difficult to do under the permits required for working with a federally listed species."
"The population of lake sturgeon is relatively large in North America—over 10,000 in Lake St. Clair, for example—and is stable or even increasing, with very limited fishing allowed by the states and provinces. Given the large amount of management geared to restoring sturgeon populations in a number of waters, the relatively stable population—even if it is quite a bit below historic levels—and the multiple jurisdictions protecting sturgeon populations today, a federal listing is not necessary and may even work to reduce these efforts."
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