WASHINGTON (CN) – The shovelnose sturgeon and the threatened pallid sturgeon look so much alike in the wild that anglers and wildlife officials can’t tell the one from the other, which poses a threat to both.
To remedy the identity problem, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service plans to extend threatened status, under the “Similarity of Appearance” provisions of the Endangered Species Act, to the shovelnose sturgeon.
Four states where the two species coexist allow for commercial fishing of shovelnose sturgeon, which is in demand for its roe which are sold as caviar. The difficulty in differentiating between shovelnose and pallid sturgeon has resulted in the take of the pallid sturgeon. The pallid sturgeon was listed as threatened in 1990 due to habitat modification, small population size, limited natural reproduction, hybridization, pollution and contaminants, and commercial harvest.
Listing the shovelnose sturgeon as threatened under the “similarity of appearance” provisions of the act will extend take prohibitions to shovelnose sturgeon, shovelnose-pallid sturgeon hybrids, and their roe, when associated with commercial fishing activity.