As Shad Numbers Continue to Fall, DEC Plans to Close Hudson River Fishery
American shad is important as both a commercial and recreational speciesWith the American shad population in the Hudson River at historic lows, DEC is proposing to close recreational and commercial fishing for the species in the Hudson, as well as prohibiting commercial landings in marine waters. Public information meetings in Castleton-on-Hudson, East Setauket and New Paltz were held in mid-September to outline steps to be taken to save this historically important species. At the meetings, DEC staff also discussed and explained what indicators of shad population recovery would enable a reopening of the recreational and commercial fisheries.
Stocks Have Not Rebounded
In 2007, the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission conducted a coast-wide assessment of American shad stocks, with New York biologists playing a lead role. The assessment concluded that the Hudson River shad stock has declined substantially since the 1990s and now is at historic lows. Juvenile production dropped to a historically low level in 2002 and has not rebounded. Hudson River recreational and commercial fisheries were restricted in 2008, hoping to trigger improvement in production of young American shad. However, because no change occurred, DEC is pursuing fishery closures.
DEC Commissioner Pete Grannis said, “We have been closely monitoring the Hudson’s shad population and hoped to see signs of rebounding, but unfortunately, that has not occurred. A closure now appears to be a necessary step to prevent the potential permanent loss of this historically and ecologically important species. We will continue to monitor Hudson shad populations with the hope that they will rebound to levels that will allow the fishery to reopen.”
At the same time, DEC will implement a Hudson River American shad recovery plan to help rebuild the stock. The plan outlines current and future studies to investigate suspected causes of the stock’s decline. Over-fishing, habitat loss, increased populations of predatory species, and competition for food sources are among the many factors to be evaluated.
For more information about New York State’s American shad stocks, visit the Hudson River Marine Fisheries page on DEC’s website. In the right-hand column on that page, you will find links to pdf files of both the recovery plan and shad stocks status report. You can also contact the Bureau of Marine Resources at 845-256-3071 or 845-256-3072, or by e-mail.