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Riverkeeper Applauds ASMFC Approval of American Shad Amendment

Atlantic Shad

Photo Courtesy NYS DEC
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In a major victory for American shad coast-wide, the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) has approved Amendment 3 to the Interstate Fishery Management Plan for Shad and River Herring. To protect coast-wide shad populations, shad fisheries will be closed except in states that demonstrate through research that their commercial and/or recreational fisheries will not diminish the potential future stock reproduction and recruitment. Amendment 3 will require all states to have management plans completed and approved by January 1, 2013, otherwise closures will be instituted on a state-by-state basis.

Riverkeeper has played a role in the effort to protect shad for a number of years by: attending public comment meetings and speaking out on behalf of shad protection and restoration; petitioning the Governor; submitting formal written comments to both the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and the ASMFC; engaging member partner groups to support shad with letter writing campaigns; and leading an effort to have comments read supporting Amendment 3 at the ASMFC conference on February 4. In addition, our Pisces Report stimulated debate and action at the State level and we’ve assisted with sonic tagging of shad to understand where the Hudson River population is spawning.

Riverkeeper’s work on behalf of shad recovery in New York State is ongoing. In addition to weighing in on shad protection on a coast-wide level, Riverkeeper recently submitted legal comments to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) supporting the closure of the Hudson River American shad fisheries and restrictions on American shad fishing in the Delaware River.

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Since 2007, Riverkeeper has been leading the way in calling on the DEC to implement a robust shad recovery plan to ensure that the closure of the shad fishery be only one element of a broader initiative to address all causes of the species’ decline in the Hudson River.

To support Riverkeeper’s efforts to protect American shad John Lipscomb also enlisted the group Religious Organizations Along the Hudson River (ROAR) for a letter writing campaign. ROAR, initiated in 1996, is a network of religious Congregations and organizations with property in the Hudson Valley whom John has hosted on several Riverkeeper boat patrols. ROAR’s campaign, aimed at protection of the Hudson’s dwindling shad populations, was targeted to support the DEC’s proposed closure of the Hudson River’s commercial and recreational shad fishery.

ROAR’s support of shad protection made a tangible difference in the DECs decision to move ahead with a closure. Unlike commercial and recreational fishing, or other interests, ROAR is an organization with nothing to gain from the proposed closures; their only interest is in the preservation of river life. It was this unique perspective that made their voice on this issue so important.

Riverkeeper continues to work tirelessly to protect the Hudson River’s dwindling fish populations. These efforts continue in March when Riverkeeper will weigh in on protection of River Herring at a public meeting hosted by DEC.

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