News > News > Preserve River Ecology > Riverkeeper Commends Feds’ Decision to Protect Atlantic Sturgeon under the Endangered Species Act

Riverkeeper Commends Feds’ Decision to Protect Atlantic Sturgeon under the Endangered Species Act

Played historic role in protecting the Hudson River’s most iconic fish

Ossining, NY – February 1, 2012 – Yesterday, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) announced its decision to designate the Hudson River Atlantic Sturgeon population as endangered under the Endangered Species Act. Riverkeeper has had a long history protecting the Hudson River’s largest and most iconic fish. Following is a statement from Phillip Musegaas, Riverkeeper’s Hudson River Program Director:

“Riverkeeper commends the National Marine Fisheries Service for taking this critical step to protect one of the Hudson River’s iconic species. Atlantic Sturgeon are magnificent, long-lived creatures which have been an integral part of the Hudson River ecosystem for millennia, but have suffered terribly from overfishing, habitat destruction and power plant intakes, decimating their numbers. Every effort should be made to protect the remaining population and the critical habitat it needs to survive and prosper. Riverkeeper has a long history of working to protect the Atlantic Sturgeon. Late Riverkeeper board member and legendary commercial fisherman Bob Gabrielson alerted biologists to the startling decline in Atlantic Sturgeon in the Hudson, which ultimately triggered the closure of commercial fisheries up and down the East Coast. Our Fishable River Campaign has continued Riverkeeper’s tradition of protecting and restoring our precious fisheries, by supporting state and federal efforts to protect sturgeon as well as American Shad, river herring and other key species. In 2010, Riverkeeper filed comments in support of NOAA’s proposal to list the Atlantic Sturgeon as endangered.

This increased protection for Atlantic Sturgeon has implications for many of our key issues, including the newly proposed reconstruction of the Tappan Zee Bridge, the ongoing destruction of billions of fish in the Hudson by Indian Point’s outdated, once-through cooling technology, the proposed Haverstraw Desalination Plant, which would inject a brine/effluent mix into a major nursery area of the species, the threat of fracking and disposal of its toxic waste, failing water and wastewater treatment infrastructure causing sewage spewing into the river, and invasive species like zebra mussels that have major impacts on the ecology of the estuary.

The news that there are less than a thousand adult sturgeon in the Hudson is a mixed blessing; tragic that this magnificent species has been brought so low, but hopeful that the increased protection and attention paid to their survival will allow them to recover and repopulate the Hudson River. The future survival of Atlantic Sturgeon goes to the core of what Riverkeeper represents – we fight not only for the public’s right to a clean, healthy river, but to restore the abundance of life that once led the Hudson to be called ‘The Serengeti of rivers.’”

Riverkeeper is a member-supported, watchdog organization dedicated to defending the Hudson River and its tributaries and protecting the drinking water supply of nine million New York City and Hudson Valley residents. For more information, please visit

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