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American shad Recovery Plan Status Report

Hudson River American Shad
An Ecosystem-Based Plan for Recovery
Status Report- 4 January 2010

The following summarizes progress on objectives identified in the Hudson River American Shad Recovery Plan:

1. Maintain American Shad Monitoring Programs

A. NYSDEC programs: Annual field sampling for 2009 was completed as scheduled; data entry is in progress. Both NYSDEC adult and juvenile programs are supported by the Hudson River Estuary Program and Wallop-Breaux Federal Aid funds. Funding for these programs is currently stable. Results for 2009 will be reported in the spring of 2010.
B. Hudson Valley Generating Companies: Annual field sampling is on schedule; completion target is in early December (Pers. Comm., Normadeau Associates). Hudson Valley generating companies currently fund this work as part of NYSDEC power generating plant operating permits. Future funding from this source is uncertain and efforts should be made to find alternate funding sources.

2. Reduce Mortality - Short Term

A. Inriver fisheries: Emergency fishery regulations were implemented in March 2008 that reduced inriver commercial fishing effort and recreational harvest limits. However, shad stock conditions continued to deteriorate and NYSDEC recently proposed a complete closure of all in-river fisheries. If enacted, closures would take effect before the spring 2010 fishing season.

B. NY ocean fisheries: NYSDEC has proposed a prohibition on landing shad from marine commercial fisheries and a closure of marine recreational fishing. If enacted, closures would take effect in the spring of 2010.

C. Water intakes: Most of the water withdrawn from the Hudson River is withdrawn by seven power plants. Status of these plants follows. Bethlehem Energy Center and Athens Generating Stations have operated with closed cycle cooling systems since 2006 and use little or no Hudson River water for cooling. Lovett Generating Station has been decommissioned. Operating permit conditions that would lead to reduced losses of American shad at Indian Point, Roseton, and Bowline Generating Stations are currently under negotiation. Improved intake technologies and outages have greatly reduced losses to the Danskammer Generating Station.

3. Reduce Mortality - Long Term: Characterize and Reduce Bycatch

A. Available NMFS bottom trawl data: The 2007 coast-wide American shad assessment initiated analyses of these data. Further activity on this issue has been delayed.

B. Available NMFS bycatch data: NYSDEC staff initiated discussions with NMFS staff at the Woods Hole, MA facility about analyses approaches.

C. Bycatch monitoring in NY ocean waters: NYSDEC awaits completion of a sample design study by Pew Oceans/Stony Brook University. Funding for active sampling based on the resulting sample design remains uncertain.

D. Port sampling in the NY Bight: The Hudson River Estuary Program funded a contract with the state of Maine to expand sea and port sampling of the sea herring fishery from Cape Cod to Cape May with a focus on American shad bycatch. The work started in December 2009 and is now a collaborative effort among Maine, Massachusetts, and New York.

E. Sea sampling in other coastal states: NYSDEC assisted in development of Draft Amendment 3 to the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) Shad and River Herring Management Plan that will require states to monitor shad in cooperation with ASMFC and the Federal government. ASMFC will consider adoption of Draft Amendment 3 in February 2010.

F.Ocean harvest stock identification : Researchers have obtained funding from the Hudson River Foundation to study stock composition of American shad taken in mixed stock fisheries and in ocean bycatch. Researchers will obtain samples from state of Maine port samplers in the NY Bight (Section 3D above) and obtained preliminary samples from the Delaware Bay fishery.

4. Characterize and Restore Critical Spawning and Nursery Habitat.

A. Spawning habitat: The Hudson River Estuary Program funded the purchase of 40 sonic and radio tags suitable for use on American shad. Hudson River Fisheries Unit (HRFU) staff caught, tagged, and tracked 40 prespawning American shad in the spring of 2009. Tracking identified specific spawning locations and revealed that the historic spawning reach had contracted northward. GPS fish locations will be included in a GIS database for subsequent comparisons with available or collected habitat information. Study will be repeated in 2010 and 2011using tags prchased by the Hudson River Estuary Program.

B. Nursery habitat:
The Hudson River Estuary Program provided funding and SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (SUNY-ESF) submitted a proposal to study larval fish habitat in the springs of 2009 and 2010, in cooperation with HRFU and Hudson River National Estuarine Research Reserve staff (HRNERR). SUNY-ESF is currently pursuing funding from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to conduct the study in 2010. Although SUNY-ESF was unable to conduct their study of larval fish nursery habitat, HRFU and HRNERR staff, in preparation for the study, constructed a larval fish sample apparatus suitable for sampling shallow Hudson River locations. Staff then conducted a limited feasibility study of potential nursery habitat and potential restoration sites. Sample gear and sample techniques proved workable and 144 larval fish samples were collected. HRFU/SUNY -ESF was unable to conduct spring sampling due to circumstances beyond the Unit's control. The SUNY-ESF proposal to NOAA above will build on results of feasibility study.

C. Demonstration Restoration Project: Work on hold pending completion of spawning and larval habitat studies outlined above.

5. Ecosystem Studies

A. Predation:A contract was developed with Stony Brook University to collect and identify gut contents of young striped bass in the lower estuary in the fall of 2008. HRFU has received the data and is currently working on a summary.HRFU field crews collected stomachs from several hundred potential freshwater and marine predators during the summer and fall of 2009. The Hudson River Estuary Program is developing an MOU with SUNY-ESF to identify gut contents.NYSDEC is seeking funds or funding partners to continue studies in the future and to broaden the predator species studied.

B. Competition: NYSDEC discussed a study of Alosine larval and juvenile diets with the Hudson River Foundation and with SUNY-ESF. No funding for this work has been obtained to date.

C. Ecosystem Modeling: Work on this item has been delayed pending completion of predation and competition studies above.

D. Climate Change: NYSDEC is seeking partners to develop a project proposal.

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