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Juvenile Atlantic Sturgeon Monitoring

The life history of Atlantic sturgeon makes monitoring of population trends through time difficult. We can use the early juvenile stage to monitor the population over time and evaluate the population's response to the commercial fishery moratorium enacted in 1996. Late juveniles stay in the Hudson River until age 6 and by age 1 have attained a size that can be effectively sampled by traditional fishing gears (i.e. gillnets). The United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) has been contracted to design such a sampling plan.

USFWS study to design sampling plan:

Image of Atlantic sturgeonObjectives:

  • Develop a sampling design that can estimate the relative abundance of juvenile sturgeon using select areas of the Estuary (Newburgh Bay and Haverstraw Bay).
  • Assess the seasonal use of habitat and water depths using the benthic mapping data to find which habitat the sturgeon prefer.

Schedule:

Sampling occurred during the fall 2003, spring 2004, fall 2004, spring 2005, and fall 2005. The spring sampling occurred during March and April and the fall sampling occurred during October and November.

Results:

USFWS determined the best time to catch fish was during the spring in Haverstraw Bay in soft, deep habitat.

Reports:

Data and a report are available from this project. Any questions contact us the Hudson River Fisheries Unit. The mailing and email address is located on the menu on the right.

2006 - Present

The NYSDEC Hudson River Fisheries Unit has taken over the sampling and continues the sampling every spring in Haverstraw Bay using the same methods USFWS used.

Atlantic sturgeon getting a PIT tag Methods:

We use anchored gillnets with stretch mesh sizes of 3 inches, 4 inches, and 5 inches. We set all three meshes at a pre-determined site. Captured Atlantic sturgeon are weighed (nearest gram), measured (nearest mm, TL and FL) and double tagged. If a passive integrated transponder (PIT) tag is not present, then we implant one. Fish are also tagged with an external USFWS Dart tag. Fish are released at the point of capture. Please report all tagged Atlantic sturgeon to the USFWS.

Biologist holding a sturgeonTo determine if the population is responding to the fishery closure we will need many years of data. When data becomes available we will post it here. Please check back in the future.

Hudson River Estuary Program logoThis logo represents the Hudson River Estuary Program. Click to learn more about how we are protecting this important estuary.


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    Hudson River Fisheries Unit
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    New Paltz, NY 12561
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