Background

The Fish and Wildlife Service is accepting through Oct. 25 comments on a proposal to list the Amur sturgeon, a fish species from the Amur River basin in Russia and China, as endangered under the Endangered Species Act. If this rule is finalized, the following activities involving this species will be generally prohibited.

- importing

- exporting

- delivering, receiving, carrying, transporting, or shipping in interstate or foreign commerce by any means and in the course of commercial activity

- selling or offering for sale in interstate or foreign commerce

- taking (i.e., pursuing, killing, capturing, etc.) within the U.S. or on the high seas

- possessing, selling, delivering, carrying, transporting, or shipping if the fish is taken illegally

The FWS notes that the Amur sturgeon was included in Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora in 1998 and that CITES parties adopted a series of recommendations to improve regulation of the international sturgeon trade, including a caviar labeling system to verify legal origin. There are also bans on commercial fishing of this species in both Russia and China.

However, the FWS states that black market trade and the laundering of wild-caught Amur sturgeon and caviar into the legal market for captive-bred products has continued to negatively affect the species in the wild despite the CITES requirements.

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