California Sturgeon Now a Candidate for the Endangered Species List

The California Fish and Game Commission has approved the white sturgeon as a candidate species for listing under the California Endangered Species Act (CESA). The decision, made on June 19, was based on sufficient scientific evidence suggesting that listing may be warranted.

A formal notice of the Commission’s decision is expected to be published by the Office of Administrative Law on July 12. Once this notice is published, fishing for white sturgeon will close, as candidate species for listing under CESA are granted full protections during the review process.

Recreational fishing for white sturgeon will remain open until July 11, under emergency regulations adopted last year. The Commission acknowledged the significant recreational and economic impact a fishing closure will have and requested the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) to explore options that might allow recreational fishing for white sturgeon to continue during the review process. This may be permitted under California Fish and Game Code Section 2084.

Potential regulations under Fish and Game Code Section 2084, which allows the Commission to authorize fishing for any sport fish listed as endangered, threatened, or a candidate species while ensuring protection of the species, will be presented by CDFW at the Commission’s August 14-15 meeting in Fortuna, Humboldt County.

The Commission’s decision has initiated a comprehensive status review of the white sturgeon by CDFW to determine if listing under CESA is warranted, with a final decision expected as early as late 2025.

CDFW advises anglers with 2024 Sturgeon Fishing Report Cards to hold onto their cards and suggests that those considering purchasing a nonrefundable 2024 Sturgeon Fishing Report Card wait until the Commission decides on any Section 2084 regulations that might allow white sturgeon fishing to resume.

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