NY DEC requests closure of American shad fisheries

With the American shad population in the Hudson River at historic lows, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) today announced draft regulations to prohibit commercial and recreational fishing for American shad both in the Hudson River and the Marine and Coastal District of New York.

The closure is necessary because the Hudson River shad stock has declined dramatically since the 1990s. Juvenile production dropped to below average in 2002 and has not rebounded. Hudson River recreational and commercial fisheries were restricted in 2008 with the hope that it would trigger some improvement in production of young American shad. With no improvement in stock status, a fishery closure was the only remaining alternative.

DEC Commissioner Pete Grannis said: "New York is proposing this measure because of the severity of the declines in the American shad population throughout the region and the importance of protecting this species. DEC has thoroughly evaluated all the data available and a closure is the most appropriate step to help this fishery recover."

Last year the DEC adopted the Hudson River American Shad Recovery Plan (www.dec.ny.gov/docs/remediation_hudson_pdf/shadrecoveryplan.pdf) to help rebuild the stock. In 2009, several parts of the Recovery Plan were implemented, including: a tagging/tracking study to better to understand adult spawning habitat use; a bycatch monitoring program to quantify American shad caught in ocean fisheries; sample collections to evaluate habitat use by early life stages of fish; and a continuation of diet studies on predatory fish such as striped bass. DEC is working on a Recovery Plan update which will include a progress report and is developing reopening criteria for the recreational and commercial fisheries.

Also, DEC's draft regulations propose a change to the daily creel limit for American shad in the Delaware River from 6 fish a day to 3 fish to further protect that population.

The draft regulations were released today in the New York State Register - //www.dos.state.ny.us/info/register/2009.html. The public comment period will be open until Jan. 4, 2010. Written comments can be sent to Kathryn Hattala, NYSDEC 21 S. Putt Corners Rd., New Paltz, NY 12561 or by email to kahattal@gw.dec.state.ny.us.

For further information regarding status of New York's American shad stocks, please visit the DEC website at: //www.dec.ny.gov/animals/6945.html and //www.dec.ny.gov/docs/fish_marine_pdf/hrshadstatus.pdf.

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