Scientific Name: Acipenser oxyrinchus
Taxonomy Group: Fishes
Range: New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Atlantic Ocean
Last COSEWIC Assessment: May 2011
Last COSEWIC Designation: Threatened
SARA Status: No schedule, No Status
PLEASE NOTE: Not all COSEWIC reports are currently available on the SARA Public Registry. Most of the reports not yet available are status reports for species assessed by COSEWIC prior to May 2002. Other COSEWIC reports not yet available may include those species assessed as Extinct, Data Deficient or Not at Risk. In the meantime, they are available on request from the COSEWIC Secretariat.
The Atlantic Sturgeon is a member of one of the oldest groups of living fishes. All sturgeon are characterized by having an internal skeleton composed of cartilage, a bottom-oriented mouth bordered with fleshy barbels, and a set of bony projections or “scutes” occurring in rows along the body. The Atlantic Sturgeon is recognized by a particular arrangement of the scutes and an elongate body with a slightly upturned snout. The Atlantic Sturgeon is an anadromous species that resides and matures in the sea, but spawns in freshwater, which also serves as juvenile rearing habitat. Mature female Atlantic Sturgeon attain an average total length of 2 - 3 m and weigh between 100 - 200 kg; mature males are smaller at 1.4 - 2.1 m total length and weigh 50 - 100 kg. Genetic information suggests both regional and population-level structure and the existence of two designatable units (DUs): St. Lawrence River and Maritimes DUs.
This large-bodied, slow-growing and late-maturing fish spawns only within the lower Saint John River area. The species has a relatively small breeding population and is subject to regulated commercial and recreational fisheries. These fisheries, however, receive limited monitoring in terms of their effects on this species making its viability highly uncertain.
Under Canada’s Species at Risk Act (SARA), the foremost function of COSEWIC is to “assess the status of each wildlife species considered by COSEWIC to be at risk and, as part of the assessment, identify existing and potential threats to the species”.
COSEWIC held two Wildlife Species Assessment Meetings during the past year assessing the status or reviewing the classification of a total of 92 wildlife species.
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The purposes of the Species at Risk Act are to prevent the disappearance of wildlife species, to provide for their recovery and to encourage the management of special concern species. All Canadians have a role to play in the conservation of wildlife species.
Before deciding whether the Maritimes population of Atlantic Sturgeon will be added to the List of Wildlife Species at Risk, we would like your opinions, comments and suggestions regarding the possible ecological, cultural and economic impacts of listing this population under the Species at Risk Act.