State Water Resources Research Institute Program

Project ID: 2012NY178B
Title: Relative Abundance of Blueback Herring (Alosa aestivalis) in Relation to Permanent and Removable Dams on the Mohawk River
Project Type: Research
Start Date: 3/01/2012
End Date: 2/29/2013
Congressional District: 25
Focus Categories: Ecology, Management and Planning, Economics
Keywords: Blueback Herring, Dams, Mohawk River, Fisheries
Principal Investigators: Ringler, Neil H. (SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry); Limburg, Karin
Federal Funds: $ 20,000
Non-Federal Matching Funds: $ 40,146
Abstract: The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) developed its Mohawk River Basin Action Agenda (2012-2016) (MRBAA) in response to recommendations of the New York State Ocean and Great Lakes Ecosystem Conservation Council to form a "Whole Hudson" approach to ecosystem management in the Hudson River Watershed. As such, the action agenda for the Mohawk is a collaborative effort among regional stakeholders to build an important partnership with the Hudson River Estuary Program (HREP) and its action agenda for the estuary. The first goal listed in the MRBAA is to "understand and manage fish, wildlife and their habitats in the Mohawk River." One of several targets to help achieve this goal is the implementation of the NYSDEC's Lower Mohawk River Fisheries Management Plan which calls for the investigation of blueback herring (Alosa aestivalis) populations (McBride, 1994). The fisheries management plan specifically mentions blueback herring as a species of interest because of its important role in sustaining major game fisheries in both the Mohawk River and Hudson River Estuary. Of vital importance to local economies in the region is the striped bass (Morone saxatilis) fishery, a species for which blueback herring are a significant food resource. The New York State Barge Canal system on the Mohawk River simultaneously creates barriers to fish passage and provides a vector for some fishes to colonize new habitats. Cohoes Falls at the confluence of the Mohawk and Hudson Rivers historically blocked anadromous blueback herring from ascending the Mohawk River until improvements to the canal system provided a means to pass the falls (Limburg et al., 2001). The study will provide data on 1) how well blueback herring pass migration barriers on the Mohawk River; 2) what parts of the Mohawk River blueback herring are using throughout the summer; and 3) otolith microchemistry to determine the migratory characteristics of blueback herring using established geochemical markers (Limburg and Siegel 2006).

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