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Atlantic Sturgeon in the Marine Environment

What is NYSDEC doing to protect the Atlantic Sturgeon in the Marine Environment?

Atlantic Sturgeon Salvage Program

Sturgeon sign posted at Turtle Cove, Montauk
Atlantic sturgeon sign posted at Montauk, NY.
Photo by: Christopher Scott

Atlantic sturgeon are commonly found off the coast of Long Island during the spring and fall. During this time human and sturgeon interactions may increase due to the presence of sturgeon in areas typical of human activities, such as commercial fishing and boating. Sturgeon may be injured or killed accidentally due to these activities and deceased Atlantic sturgeon may wash up on beaches. Carcasses are most commonly found on ocean beaches, but occasionally along Long Island Sound beaches as well. In order to better conserve this species, it's important to collect information about these wash ups. NYSDEC staff have placed signs across Long Island to provide information to the general public about the Atlantic sturgeon, displaying a number to call if they encounter one, live or dead. If you encounter a live or deceased Atlantic sturgeon in the marine environment, including Long Island Sound, please contact our office by calling (631) 444-0462.

Please visit our Main Atlantic Sturgeon webpage to review the protocol on how to report a sturgeon sighting

Increased Observer Coverage

The NYSDEC has provided funds to NOAA's Northeast Fisheries Observer Program (NEFOP) to increase observer coverage of commercial fishing vessels landing catch in New York and fishing using trawls, gillnets or pot/traps. This increased coverage will help monitor Atlantic sturgeon populations and bycatch rates. Please visit the Fishery Observer Coverage webpage to learn more about the increased observer coverage.

Atlantic Sturgeon Acoustic Tagging Program

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) Atlantic Sturgeon Acoustic Tagging Program was implemented to provide funds for a number of projects to gather data and develop conservation strategies for the Atlantic sturgeon in the Northeastern US, including spawning habitat assessment, tracking marked individuals, genetics and stock assessment. NYSDEC, Marine Protected Resources Unit, collaborates with Stony Brook University, and Hudson River Fisheries Unit and scientists from Delaware State University and Monmouth University to gather movement data from coastal and ocean regions, rivers and freshwater habitats. By acoustically tagging juvenile and adult Atlantic sturgeon, this work has helped to determine movement patterns of sturgeon and determine where they are spending most of their time and when and where they are migrating along the coast. This project was the first to find aggregation areas for sturgeon off of the coast of Long Island (areas where large groups of sturgeon form, and remain for periods of time during migration). Finding and protecting such areas is important to the protection of this species.

Data has been gathered from the Acoustic Tagging Program since 2004, however, there are still many questions to be answered involving spawning locations and population size, as well as comparing ocean and Hudson environments. Luckily, data from our Acoustic Tagging Program, combined with mortality data derived from the Atlantic Sturgeon Salvage Program, provides biologist with adequate information about the Atlantic sturgeon populations in the Northeast US and will continue to provide them with data to effectively conserve this species.

More Information and Questions

If you have questions or would like any additional information about anything you see on this page, please contact us by calling the Marine Protected Resources Unit.

Learn more about the research Stony Brook University is doing (link leaves DEC's website) to help NYSDEC conserve the Atlantic sturgeon.