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RvK Supports Shad Recovery

A sapidissima shad

Photo courtesy DEC
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Comments Submitted on closure of Hudson River Shad Fishery

Riverkeeper kicked off the new year by submitting comments to the 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.

Despite Governor Paterson’s announcement of the Hudson River American Shad Recovery Plan over a year ago, our shad population is at historically low levels and recent DEC findings show they are continuing to decline. The history of American shad and the Hudson River fishery dates back to before colonial times. Shad was once abundant in the Hudson and a large commercial fishery thrived. Over the years many factors have led to the shad’s precipitous decline including pollution, habitat loss, overfishing, cooling water intakes, and obstructions such as dams. The Hudson River’s American shad population is now at historically low levels.

Riverkeeper has been at the forefront of this issue since 2007 and is leading the way in calling on the DEC 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. Following a financially difficult year for New York State where budgets were slashed it is more important than ever for the DEC to commit funding and resources to ensure the restoration of a sustainable shad fishery. We are calling on the DEC to:

  • Continue to dedicate staff and funding for annual adult spawning stock and young of year surveys
  • Require power plants operating with once-through cooling on the Hudson River to continue funding and implementing the Long River survey which obtains the early shad life stage abundance information critical to the DEC’s annual calculation of adult shad abundance
  • Work to reduce shad population mortality by mandating the installation of at least closed-cycle cooling at every Hudson River power plant, and work with New Jersey and Delaware to coordinate with New York’s regulations and eliminate the taking of Hudson River shad in the Delaware Bay
  • Fully commit to characterizing and reducing shad ocean bycatch and aggressively pursue funding and partnerships to support this effort
  • Commit additional funding and resources to characterize, protect and restore shad spawning and nursery habitat, study ecosystem change, characterize the predators who eat shad, and study the other factors that impact shad populations.


Riverkeeper believes that the closure of the Hudson fisheries mark a tragic loss for New York State. A closure of the shad fishery alone, without a commitment to fully implement a strong and comprehensive plan, would likely fail to ensure the recovery of American shad stocks and could doom the commercial shad fishery to a historical footnote. We’re working hard to utilize our resources to push for the necessary funding in order to carry out a robust Shad Recovery Plan, so that such a scenario is never realized.

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