Restoring Signature Fisheries

SUCCESS STORY: Reviving the Sturgeon Population

Both shortnose (Acipenser brevirostrum) and Atlantic sturgeon (Acipenser oxyrinchus) reside in the Hudson. Often referred to as living fossils, these species date back to the time of dinosaurs, and were at one time, massively abundant in the river, where they spawn upstream in freshwater. Their population in the Hudson had been declining for decades when, in 1980, fishermen reported something alarming: they were catching fewer and fewer small sturgeon. Because these fish only spawn every 2-5 years, they’re vulnerable to population decline and it can take a long time for the species to rebuild its numbers. Fewer juveniles spelled trouble. HRF convened workshops with experts, published white papers, and funded research showing that the sturgeon population was dwindling. That data helped lead to a 40-year moratorium on all coastal sturgeon fishing in U.S. waters. Since the moratorium was put in place, the juvenile sturgeon population has increased, though it still remains below historic levels and both shortnose and Atlantic sturgeon remain on the endangered species list.

The Hudson is home to many globally important fish populations including perch, shad, striped bass, sturgeon, herring, and eels. Once sources of food to communities living along the banks of the River and Estuary, these populations have been depleted over time by overfishing and by pollution.

The Hudson River Foundation’s commitment to studying and effectively managing fisheries dates back to our founding. The legal settlement that created the Foundation arose to address the impact of power plant intakes on the Hudson’s fish populations. As a result, the Foundation’s early investments in research were heavily centered on fisheries, in particular signature finfish species. We continue to work with and fund scientists to learn more about this important ecosystem and integrate that information into policies and practices used by fisheries and other resource managers. Our support of the Hudson River Biological Monitoring Program will ensure that management decisions are driven by data and the best scientific understanding.


Hudson River Foundation