Restoring an Ancient Legacy
BY OREY ECKES, GENOA NFH
A cooperative effort among the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service – New York Field Office, Genoa National Fish Hatchery (NFH), New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC), the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe, the New York Power Authority and the U.S. Geological Survey is leading to the restoration of lake sturgeon to the St. Lawrence River and its tributaries.
In June 2013 hatchery staff, Doug Aloisi and Orey Eckes, aided with the collection of lake sturgeon eggs from wild caught spawning fish below the New York Power Authority dam in Massena, New York. After fertilization, eggs were transported to Genoa NFH in Genoa, Wisconsin and NYSDEC Oneida Hatchery. Eggs from Genoa NFH were reared in our newly renovated isolation facility until disease-free certification was obtained by the Service's La Crosse Fish Health Center. Upon disease free clearance, fish were transferred to Genoa's sturgeon rearing building where warmer water temperatures are ideal for final grow out. Sturgeon were fed diets of brine shrimp, bloodworms and krill until they reached six inches long by the beginning of October. All sturgeon from Genoa NFH were coded wire tagged, which gives them a batch identification number, allowing resource managers to assess future population growth and survival. By mid-October the sturgeon were ready to make their journey back east.
In October 2013 hatchery staff ventured out east with approximately 11,000 tagged lake sturgeon. Upon arrival they were welcomed by local press representatives and staff from Service's New York Field Office, NYSDEC, St. Regis Mohawk Tribe, New York Power Authority and the U.S. Geological Survey. The sturgeon were released into the St. Lawrence River at Ogdensburg and below the New York Power Authority's dam in Massena, as well as several larger tributaries. Due to this cooperative effort among agencies, biologists are hopeful populations of lake sturgeon in the St. Lawrence River may one day return to historic numbers. The Genoa NFH staff is looking forward to working with these partners for years to come in establishing a restored population of lake sturgeon in the St. Lawrence River.