Jul. 17—A milestone in the restoration of the Genesee River has been reached following the collection of a spawning female lake sturgeon in the lower Genesee River for the first time in more than 50 years.
State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos made the announcement with partners along the banks of the Genesee River in Monroe County. On May 25, Dr. Dawn Dittman and the field crew from the U.S. Geological Survey's (USGS) Tunison Laboratory of Aquatic Science netted the 61-inch, nearly 70-pound female lake sturgeon. DEC began stocking lake sturgeon into the lower Genesee River in 2003, as part of the state's efforts to support the species' recovery.
"Working with our partners, DEC's investments and efforts to stock and clean up the Genesee watershed have paid off for lake sturgeon in the Genesee River," Seggos said. "This sturgeon thrived in the Genesee as a stocked juvenile and has finally reached maturity to hopefully produce another generation. We appreciate the work of all our federal partners, Monroe County, Seneca Park Zoo, New York Sea Grant, and others improving the Genesee River ecosystem and increasing public awareness of the river's ongoing restoration."
The discovery of the spawning lake sturgeon in lower section of the Genesee River is significant as the area is part of the Rochester Embayment Area of Concern (AOC). The AOC designation was given to 43 areas around the Great Lakes Basin under the U.S.- Canada Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement, signifying the chemical, physical, or biological components of the area's ecosystem were degraded as a result of local human activities.
DEC works closely with regulatory partners at the USGS, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, as well as Monroe County Department of Health, to improve water quality and restore habitat in the Rochester Embayment AOC. The return of spawning lake sturgeon provides further evidence that restoration efforts are leading to tangible improvements to the ecosystem and support fisheries restoration and management goals. In addition, the Seneca Park Zoo and New York Sea Grant help educate the public about lake sturgeon and the Genesee River.
Across New York, lake sturgeon numbers are on the rise and DEC asks the angling public to continue to support their recovery by releasing accidentally hooked sturgeon immediately. The heat and stress of spawning make lake sturgeon more vulnerable to incidental mortality from angling at this time of year. DEC depends on anglers to support sturgeon by removing the hook in accidental catches while the fish is still in the water and move to a different location or use a different angling technique once the sturgeon is hooked.
For more information about the lake sturgeon recovery program in New York State, visit Lake Sturgeon Recovery Plan — NYS Dept. of Environmental Conservation https://www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/111557.html.