DEC FOCUSES ON THE DECLINE OF HUDSON RIVER SHAD POPULATIONS
New York Issues Emergency Fishing Regulations and Explore Ecosystem-Based Management Strategies
The Hudson River American shad population is at historic lows, prompting the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) to implement fishing restrictions and study other opportunities to further protect this important species and its habitat, Commissioner Pete Grannis announced today.
Effective immediately, emergency regulations have been adopted to help reduce the amount of adult shad taken by fishing. This means implementing a catch-and-release-only season for recreational fishing.
For commercial fishing, the actions include a limit on certain types of fishing gear, restrictions on times and places where fishing is allowed, and other changes.
These actions stem from a recent assessment of Hudson River American shad that indicate stocks are at historic lows. The survey was conducted by DEC staff as part of a coast-wide assessment of American shad stocks under the coordination of the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC), of which New York is a participant. The population of Hudson River American shad has declined significantly since the early 1990s. Of particular concern to DEC biologists is that the shad comprising the spawning stock (adult fish) have become smaller and younger, and mortality has increased to excessive and unacceptable levels. Meanwhile, juvenile production dropped to an all time low in 2002 and has not recovered. This current level is 70 percent lower than the long-term average measured since 1980. The primary cause of the changes to the shad population has been over-fishing.
DEC is committed to the recovery of American shad stocks. In addition to the regulations announced today, the agency is exploring ways to implement an ecosystem-based analysis of the shad population as
well as cooperative initiatives with other East Coast states through ASMFC to achieve population recovery goals. Ecosystem-based management is an integrated approach to decision making that considers an entire ecological community, including humans, to create a sound blueprint for the near and long-term. Potential projects include identifying sources of ocean bycatch losses, habitat restoration, and identification of potential predators and food chains.
DEC has adopted new requirements that will make recreational fishing for shad catch-and-release-only. Recreational fishing usually takes place from late March through early June, when shad are in the
Hudson to spawn.
To address commercial fishing, changes include longer periods of no fishing each week (known as an *escapement period*), gear limits, and designation of certain areas along the Hudson as closed or
restricted to shad fishing. The commercial season runs from March 15 to June 15 annually.
A table highlighting the changes follows.
The emergency regulations were developed following meetings held by DEC earlier this year with anglers and commercial fisherman. The duration of these restrictions will depend on results of continued annual stock monitoring. Results from these studies will be evaluated annually. If young shad production remains low or declines within the next year, DEC will consider further restrictions. If the production of young increases and remains high for at least five years, DEC will consider relaxing restrictions
Prior to today’s action, New York has pursued other ways to protect shad. In 2005, New York worked through the ASMFC to close ocean harvest of American shad for commercial fishing. This action
substantially reduced losses of Hudson River American shad, but it did not solve the problem of continued low production of juveniles and continued excessive mortality from fishing. The few fish produced from 2002 to 2007 are now returning as adults and are what remains to rebuild the stock. These fish must be protected if the shad stock is to recover. Analysis indicates that there must be a harvest reduction of approximately 50 percent, and must be accompanied by a four-fold increase in the production of young fish.
In addition, ASMFC is considering reductions in mortality for shad stocks in decline, such as in the Hudson. However, the new amendment will not be finalized until August 2009 and no actions would
likely be required until 2010. This amendment is a step towards assisting the rebuilding of shad stocks, but DEC decided that it could not wait two more years to stop the decline of the Hudson shad and opted
for immediate implementation of state-specific restrictions.
For further information regarding New York's fishing regulations please visit the DEC website at: www.dec.ny.gov/index.html
The emergency regulations will be posted on the DEC website at:
For additional information about DEC Marine Resources- Hudson River Fisheries programs please contact the Bureau of Marine Resources at (845)-256-3071 or
While the emergency restrictions announced today are in place, DEC is proposing to make these regulations permanent. The draft proposal will appear in the State Register on April 2, 2008, and a 45-day public comment period will be held. The comment period ends on May 17, 2008. The public can send comments to [email protected]
, or by mail to Kathy Hattala, NYSDEC-Hudson River Fisheries Unit, 21 South Putt Corners Rd., New Paltz, NY 12561.
SUMMARY of EMERGENCY REGULATIONS for American shad in the Hudson River
Catch-and-release only (no harvest)
March 15 to June 15
- Gill nets and seines can only be fished 2 hr before sunrise until sunset, except below the Bear Mountain Bridge
- All other licensed gears may be fished at night
Closed / restricted areas Between the Troy Dam and Castleton (I90 and Railroad) bridges
No gill nets allowed
Between the Castleton (I90 and Railroad) bridges and the G. Washington Bridge
Herring gill nets allowed, up to a maximum of 32 inch stretched mesh
Between the Rip Van Winkle Bridge (Catskill) and G. Washington Bridge
Shad gill nets allowed equal to 52 inch stretched mesh
Kingston Flats - no nets of any kind may be placed on the [email protected]
Drift nets only between the Bear Mountain and Newburgh-Beacon Bridges.
Only drift gill nets are allowed to be possessed on the water or shores bordering the area between the Bear Mountain Bridge and New burgh-Beacon Bridge
Lift (Escapement) period
Duration: 84 hrs, 6am Wednesday to 6 pm Saturday
- No fishing or possession of shad gill nets (equal to 5.5in stretch mesh) or seines in the river from Rip Van Winkle Bridge to G. Washington Bridge
Duration: 36 hrs - 6am Friday to 6 pm Saturday
- No fishing or possession of gill nets (up to 32 stretched mesh) between the Castleton (I90 and Railroad) bridges and the G. Washington Bridge
- Herring gill nets, up to a maximum of 32 inch stretched mesh allowed 6am Wednesday to 6am Friday south of the Castleton I 90 spur.
Exceptions include fyke net and scap nets, minnow nets to take bait
- River herring can be taken with gill nets of up to 32 in stretched mesh; shad caught in herring gill nets must be thrown back.
- Shad can be taken with a gill of 52 inch stretched mesh
Net cannot exceed 600 feet
- One net per permittee
- Permittee must be in immediate attendance of net when fishing except for fixed gear below the Bear Mountain Bridge