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Atlantic Sturgeon Recovery Atlantic sturgeon at Horn Point

Atlantic sturgeon, once a commercially important species in the Chesapeake Bay, suffered drastic reductions due to habitat degradation and overfishing in the late 1800s and early 1900s. By the 1920s Atlantic sturgeon were rarely found in the Bay. In 1996 Maryland closed the sturgeon fishery.

In the past 45 years, no young-of-year sturgeon have been caught in Maryland's juvenile finfish survey and no young-of-year sturgeon or spawning sturgeon have been encountered in the Maryland Sturgeon Reward Program. Because of the small population size, a hatchery stocking program, along with improved water quality and good management practices could be key to Atlantic sturgeon recovery in the Chesapeake Bay.

The objectives of the experimental sturgeon spawning and stocking program are to produce, mark and stock hatchery-cultured progeny of wild-caught sturgeon into Maryland target tributaries and to monitor survival, growth, and movement of stocked fish. This program will allow fishery managers to assess the ability of Maryland tributaries to support populations of young sturgeon.

Maryland DNR, in cooperation with the Maryland Fish and Wildlife Conservation Office, is working to increase knowledge of and improve propagation techniques. The program will utilize sperm cryopreservation to increase genetic diversity of cultured fish, improve larval and broodstock nutrition, and develop streamside culture techniques. This work will lead to the development of a Maryland Atlantic Sturgeon Restoration Plan.

Last updated: February 18, 2016
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