Sturgeon Fisheries

 

North American sturgeons and paddlefish have coexisted with humans for countless millennia.  This coexistence has not always been a positive one as most sturgeons and paddlefish have suffered the consequences of overharvest including range contraction (extirpation) and/or extinction.  Both sturgeons and paddlefish were targeted by the native peoples in what is commonly considered a sustainable manner.  In the later part of the nineteenth century, this changed as large scale commercial fisheries targeting caviar and flesh production expanded from the Atlantic seaboard throughout much of North America.  As one population collapsed the harvesters moved to others until those were exhausted before switching to new species where the pattern was all too commonly repeated.  Today fisheries scientists and resource managers are faced with conserving our relic populations with the long-term goal of restoration to levels that would support sustainable fisheries.  In many instances, these goals are complicated by concerns over habitat alteration/loss, unintended bycatch, invasive species, pollution, limited genetic diversity, and climate change.  The North American Sturgeon and Paddlefish Society works to support these efforts in hopes that we can one day recover our native sturgeons and paddlefish to levels that will both provide ecological benefits as well as support sustainable fisheries.