Five East Coast sturgeon populations have been proposed for protection under the Endangered Species Act.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced Tuesday that sturgeon in the Gulf of Maine have been proposed for listing as threatened while endangered status is being proposed for the Chesapeake Bay, New York Bight, Carolina and South Atlantic populations.
An endangered listing gives species full protection under the act, including bans on killing, collecting, or even harassing and pursuing endangered species.
The slowly reproducing fish, which can live 100 years and weigh hundreds of pounds, were once abundant along the East Coast and sought after for their salty eggs. They were driven nearly to extinction by the caviar industry at the end of the 19th century.