The southern distinct population segment (sDPS) of North American green sturgeon (Acipenser medirostris) is an anadromous, long-lived, late maturing species that spawns in the Sacramento River Basin, located in the Central Valley of California. It spends most of its life in the nearshore marine environment and coastal bays and estuaries along the west coast of North America. On April 7, 2006, NMFS listed sDPS green sturgeon as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) (71 FR 17757, April 7, 2006). This determination was based on the fact that the Sacramento River basin contains the only known sDPS spawning population, information suggesting population decline, and habitat loss and degradation in the Sacramento River Basin. Since the listing of the sDPS, a number of habitat restoration actions within the Sacramento River Basin have occurred and spawning has been documented in the Feather and Yuba rivers (Seesholtz et al. 2015; Beccio 2018), but many significant threats have not been addressed. Currently, the majority of sDPS green sturgeon spawning occurs within a single reach of the mainstem Sacramento River, placing the species at increased risk of extinction due to stochastic events.
Recovery Goal, Objective, and Criteria
The goal of this recovery plan is to recover sDPS green sturgeon and consequently remove it from the Federal List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife. Achieving this goal will have a number of economic, societal, and ecosystem benefits. Delisting of the sDPS may result in opening fisheries that were closed due to direct or incidental sDPS mortality, resulting in economic and recreational benefits. The ESA regulatory burden will also be eased for fisheries, water resource, industrial, and commercial activities. Accomplishing the habitat restoration measures will also result in more functional ecosystems that support other economic activities and contribute to the conservation and recovery of other species.