Final Green Sturgeon Critical Habitat Designation
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)’s Green Sturgeon Final Critical Habitat (CH) designation rule was published on Oct. 9, 2009. Click here for a copy of the report. Other Final Rule documents include the Economic and Biological Reports which are available on the NMFS Southwest Region website at http://swr.nmfs.noaa.gov
NOAA’s designation as proposed would include most, but not all, marine waters within 110 meters depth from Monterey Bay to Cape Flattery, including US waters of the Strait of Juan de Fuca. 73 Fed. Reg. 52083 (September 8, 2008). BPC submitted a comprehensive scientific, economic and legal analysis of he proposed rule and recommended exclusions of certain areas of San Francisco Bay from the rule. The Rule has the potential for severe regulatory impact on dredging and disposal and shipping and related trade and commerce activity. BPC Response Letter – December 22. 2008
NMFS did not accept our recommendations for critical habitat exclusions, and we plan to have a meeting with them NMFS soon to discuss their justification. Based on the final CH, according to the NMFS staff, this Rule means that section 7 consultations will now have to consider the effects of projects on critical habitat for the green sturgeon. Although this rule may result in additional consultation requirements for development activities, NMFS has told us that it does not anticipate that this Rule would result in major disruptions to dredging Bay activities in S. F. Bay. We trust that this will prove to be the case as Bay commercial and recreational users have been operating under the Critical Habitat designation for salmon for many years without major disruption.
In related rulemaking, NOAA published is final Endangered Species Act 4 (d) rule for the Green Sturgeon. We are awaiting the final rule.BPC Comment Letter – July 20, 2009