PORTLAND, Maine — The federal government is designating critical habitat for the Atlantic sturgeon in a step regulators say will help the fish recover its population.

The National Marine Fisheries Services says the designation will apply in coastal areas from Maine to Florida.

The service says federal agencies will have to consult with the fisheries service if they operate or pay for activities that could affect designated critical habitat in nearly 4,000 miles of coastal river area.

The service says the sturgeon was listed under the Endangered Species Act in 2012. Population segments include the threatened Gulf of Maine population and the endangered populations in New York Bight, Chesapeake Bay, the Carolina area and the South Atlantic.

The sturgeon suffered overfishing in the 20th century when it was harvested for eggs for caviar.