By Mark Abrams
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The US Army Corps of Engineers says the Delaware River dredging project will not be slowed or cost more even if federal authorities decide to declare the Atlantic sturgeon an endangered species.
Ed Voight, a spokesman for the Philadelphia District of the Army Corps of Engineers, which is supervising the lengthy and delicate dredging project, says the agency has been aware for some time that federal fisheries officials are evaluating an “endangered species” label for the Atlantic sturgeon.
The sturgeon, which is generally found in the ocean, seeks out a tidal connection with fresh water to spawn, and the Delaware River between the Commodore Barry Bridge and Trenton is prime egg-laying grounds.
But Voight says the project engineers have been working for more than a year with fisheries officials to plan seasonal scheduling restrictions so as not to disrupt the spawning process, and plan to intensify monitoring of the aquatic life.
“Part of our job as the Army Corps is to make sure that we get the river deepened to support commercial navigation at the same time that we protect river life, and that’s something we’re fullly prepared to do,” Voight told KYW Newsradio today.
The American Fisheries Society considers the fish as “threatened” throughout its entire range, although it is believed to no longer inhabit the full range it once did.
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