DEC looks to remove lake sturgeon from threatened list in New York no later than 2024

While Lake Champlain lies between Vermont and New York there is no indication, even historically, that sturgeon ever reproduced on the New York side of the lake. (New York State Department of Environmental Conservation)

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos announced the release of the final Lake Sturgeon recovery plan for New York.

“Lake Sturgeon have been listed as a threatened species in New York since 1983, and this plan will provide DEC and our partners with a clear blueprint to achieve recovery of this ancient fish within our waters,” Seggos said in a news release Friday, April 13.

The purpose of the recovery plan is to ensure perpetuation of the species in the state, restore self-sustaining populations, and remove the species from the threatened species list in New York, the release said, adding that the plan sets clear metrics to demonstrated recovery in six of the seven management units across the species’ range in the state. DEC anticipates the agency will gather enough evidence of recovery of lake sturgeon to initiate removal from the list of threatened species in New York no later than 2024.

The plan was completed after incorporating comments from the public and partners and is the culmination of dedicated work by DEC, the New York Power Authority (NYPA), U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Geological Survey, Cornell University, St. Regis Mohawk Tribe, and others since recovery activities began in 1992. NYPA was integral in the development of three spawning beds on the St. Lawrence.

A summary of comments is included in the final Lake Sturgeon Recovery Plan, and are available on DEC’s website.

Lake sturgeon were once abundant in New York, but commercial fishing, dam building, and habitat loss decimated populations. Today the fish can still be found in Lake Erie, the Niagara River, Lake Ontario, the St. Lawrence River, Grasse River, Oswegatchie River, and Black Lake, as well as Lake Champlain, Cayuga Lake, Oneida Lake, Seneca River, and the Cayuga Canal.

While sturgeon numbers have improved, their populations are still low compared to historical levels both in New York and the rest of the Great Lakes states. It is estimated that fishing removed 80 percent of the sturgeon from Lake Erie by 1900. Sturgeon were once prized for their meat and caviar and constituted an important industry in the state.

For more information on lake sturgeon visit these pages:

— New York State Department of Environmental Conservation