The endangered Atlantic sturgeon just got a double boost in Virginia as NOAA awarded federal funds to continue restoration efforts here and also designated the Chesapeake Bay “critical habitat” for the species.That's real money, by science standards, but not huge money. Most of a small labs salary expenses for a year, and some field time.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is giving the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries $378,666 for fiscal year 2018 to locate and characterize key sturgeon habitat within the bay’s river systems.
The award follows nearly $357,000 in FY2016 and more than $365,000 in FY2017 in what’s known as species recovery grants for Atlantic sturgeon.
And it’s part of $5.8 million in grants just awarded for endangered or threatened species in the greater Atlantic, from shellfish to whales.
The new grant will go to continue the tagging work, in conjunction with Game and Inland Fisheries and Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond. Researchers have been tagging in the James and York rivers, and will look for subadults using the Rappahannock, Hilton said.
The Chesapeake Bay is considered a “distinct population segment” of Atlantic sturgeon. Like other populations, it’s in danger of extinction, NOAA Fisheries says, because of its precipitous and prolonged drop in numbers, the limited amount of spawning and persistent impacts and threats to its survival.News on the Atlantic Sturgeon in Chesapeake Bay has been upbeat for a while now, but the situations was so dire, and the recovery of the populations so slow that we should not expect much in a short while.
Before 1890 and the onset of the sturgeon fishery, estimates are that about 20,000 adult females inhabited the bay and its tributaries. Today, the spawning population in the James River is estimated at less than 300 adults. There’s some historical evidence that the Rappahannock, Potomac and Susquehanna also were spawning rivers.
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