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American Shad

American shad (Alosa sapidissima) is a migratory species that has a long history in the Hudson River Estuary. Native and colonial Americans fished for shad for sustenance often smoking the flesh and consuming the roe (i.e. eggs) as a delicacy. American shad continued to be an important recreational and commercial fishery throughout the 20th century. However, the Hudson stock has declined in recent years and as a result all commercial and recreational fisheries for shad were closed in 2010.

Current Fishery

Commercial and recreational fishing for American shad is prohibited in the Hudson River and the Marine District of New York. Recreational anglers may take three fish per day in New York portions of the Delaware River.


Example of an American shad

American shad are managed through the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC). Due to significant declines in coastal landings of American shad, ASMFC recommended a closure of all ocean fishing in 2005. A 2007 coast-wide ASMFC stock assessment followed the ocean closure and showed the Hudson River American shad populations were in serious trouble. A complete closure of recreational and commercial fishing in the Hudson River began in 2009. A summary of the findings from this stock assessment can be found here (PDF; 776 KB). Staff are revising the Hudson River American Shad Recovery Plan, which will define the population goals required to re-open a Hudson River fishery.

The 2007 ASMFC Stock Assessment found the Delaware River population to be stable. Commercial and recreational fishing in the Delaware River Basin remains open, but requires an ASMFC approved Sustainable Fishing Plan every five years. The current Delaware River 2012-2016 plan can be found here (PDF; 1.55 MB). As members of the Delaware Basin Fish and Wildlife Cooperative (Delaware Coop), NYSDEC staff are writing a new plan for 2017-2021.

Long-term Monitoring Programs

Hudson River Fisheries Unit staff pulling a beach seine

NYSDEC maintains three long-term monitoring programs for American shad:

Hudson River Spawning Stock Survey

  • 500 foot seine and electrofishing during April and May (1985 - present)
  • Collects lengths, weights, and ages of spawning American shad

Hudson River Young-of-Year Survey

Non-tidal Delaware River Young-of-Year Survey

Additional Research

2009-2012 Sonic Tagging Project

Biologist holding a Hudson River American shad

More about American Shad :

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