Atlantic Sturgeon (St. Lawrence populations)

Acipenser oxyrinchus

SARA Status
No Status
NS
Special Concern
SC
Threatened
TH
Endangered
EN
Extirpated
EX

SARA Status

  • No Status NS
  • Special Concern SC
  • Threatened TH
  • Endangered EN
  • Extirpated EX
COSEWIC Status
Not at Risk
NR
Special Concern
SC
Threatened
TH
Endangered
EN
Extirpated
EX

COSEWIC Status

  • Not at Risk NR
  • Special Concern SC
  • Threatened TH
  • Endangered EN
  • Extirpated EX
Atlantic Sturgeon

Photo: Exploramer

Description

The Atlantic Sturgeon is a large-bodied, slow-growing and late-maturing anadromous fish, which lives and grows in brackish, salty water, but spawns in fresh water. The largest fish to be captured in the St. Lawrence River (160 kg or 350 lb) was estimated to be about 60 years old.

Habitat

According to the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada, Atlantic Sturgeon found in Canadian waters form two distinct populations: the St. Lawrence and Maritimes populations. The Atlantic Sturgeon, St. Lawrence populations, is mainly found east of Trois-Rivières, into the Estuary and past the Gulf of St. Lawrence, into the Atlantic up until Ungava Bay in the north, and along the northeastern coast of Newfoundland in the south. The species gathers in areas between Québec City and Petite-Rivière-Saint-François to rear and feed its young, and potentially so adults can spawn, rest and feed as well. The Atlantic sturgeon feeds primarily on benthic invertebrates, although large juveniles and adults also feed on small fish.

Threats

The main threats to the Atlantic Sturgeon are commercial fishing and the degradation and loss of habitat. Dredging could constitute a major threat, especially in juvenile feeding areas. Marine and fresh water pollution was also identified as a potential threat to the Atlantic Sturgeon's habitat.

Further Information

The Atlantic Sturgeon, St. Lawrence populations, has been designated threatened by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada. Public consultations regarding the addition of this population to the List of Wildlife Species at Risk were held from November 17, 2014 to February 27, 2015. The Governor-in-Council's listing recommendation will published in the Canada Gazette Part I (Government of Canada newspaper where laws and regulations are published) and on the Species at Risk Public Registry.

Atlantic Sturgeon (St. Lawrence populations)

Illustration of an Atlantic Sturgeon

Illustration: DFO, D. Peddle

Scientific name: Acipenser oxyrinchus
SARA Status: No Status
COSEWIC Status: Threatened (2011)
Region: Quebec, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador

Atlantic Sturgeon, St. Lawrence populations distribution

Atlantic Sturgeon, St. Lawrence populations distribution. Map adapted from the COSEWIC Assessment and Status Report on the Atlantic Sturgeon (Acipenser oxyrinchus) in Canada.

This map shows the distribution of the Atlantic Sturgeon, St. Lawrence populations, targeted for the consultation. It uses Mercator projection. This map was adapted from the COSEWIC Assessment and Status Report on the Atlantic Sturgeon Acipenser oxyrinchus in Canada, published in 2011. The St. Lawrence Atlantic Sturgeon population is present in the St. Lawrence River, from Trois-Rivières upstream to the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Outside the Gulf, the distribution extends northward along the Atlantic coast of Labrador to South Aulatsivik Island. The southern border of the distribution in the Atlantic is at Springdale, Newfoundland. In the Gulf of St. Lawrence, the southern border of the distribution forms a straight line between Baie-des-Chaleurs to the west and a point on the coast of Newfoundland around Corner Brook to the east.

Did You Know?

The Atlantic Sturgeon is the largest fresh water fish of the east coast of North America. Biologically, there is great scientific interest in its origin, which dates back at least 200 million years.

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