Fisheries, Midwest Region
Conserving the Nature of America
Lake Sturgeon

Native Americans revered the lake sturgeon (Acipenser fulvescens) as an important part of their culture. In the 1800s, the sturgeon's economic value was recognized by European settlers and commercial fishing of sturgeon intensified, resulting in rapid declines in abundance of the species through the late 1800s.

By 1900, commercial catches had declined significantly as the population plummeted.  Over-harvesting, habitat loss, damming of tributaries and pollution all contributed to these population declines and the continued lack of recovery. Today, while several populations have experienced varying levels of recovery, many lake sturgeon populations remain imperiled. Lake sturgeon are now protected with strict harvest regulations in most of the waters of the Great Lakes.

Service lake sturgeon restoration activities in the upper Great Lakes and tributaries have focused on gathering needed information on population status and trends such as abundance, distribution, age, growth and health of the species.  Thousands of captured sturgeon have been tagged and released to help us monitor movements and gain a better understanding of the sturgeon's life cycle. Service hatcheries have also been rearing lake sturgeon for restoration efforts. The Service also provides assistance to Native American tribes with lake sturgeon restoration activities.