On YouTube: NYSG Receives Disney Conservation Fund Support for Lake Sturgeon Restoration Efforts
Great Lakes Sustainable Recreational and Commercial Fisheries - Press Release


Jesse M. Lepak, Ph.D., New York Sea Grant's Fisheries and Ecosystem Specialist, P: 315-312-3042, E: jml78@cornell.edu

Kara Lynn Dunn, NYSG's Great Lakes Freelance Publicist, P: 315-465-7578, E: karalynn@gisco.net

Ithaca, NY, March 7, 2019 - New York Sea Grant (NYSG) is among the most recent recipients of support from the Disney Conservation Fund (DCF) for its work to support lake sturgeon recovery efforts in New York and lead outreach and education programs to inspire appreciation for this prehistoric freshwater fish and state Threatened Species.

The fund has been supporting local efforts around the world aimed at saving wildlife, inspiring action and protecting the planet with more than $75 million distributed to nonprofit organizations since 1995.

Lake sturgeon were once abundant in New York, but populations began to decline in the mid-1800s, largely as a result of overharvest, dam construction and habitat degradation.  The fishery was closed in 1976 and lake sturgeon were designated a New York State Threatened Species in 1983.

Additionally, lake sturgeon are listed by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) as a Species of Greatest Conservation Need (NYSDEC, 2015), and considered a priority species for recovery in New York. Today, it is illegal to possess lake sturgeon or target them while fishing in New York.

These fish are also considered a species of cultural significance to the Mohawks of Akwesasne and other Haudenosaunee Nations surrounding the Lake Ontario, Niagara River and St. Lawrence River watersheds. Indigenous peoples in these regions have a long history of subsistence fishing of lake sturgeon and today, Tribal nations are a key partner in conservation and education outreach efforts for this species.

Over the next two years, Disney support of the “Inspiring Lake Sturgeon Conservation” project will help NYSG and its partners address portions of more than half of the three dozen statewide recovery actions identified in the New York State Lake Sturgeon Recovery Plan. Partners including NYSDEC, USFWS-New York, New York Sturgeon for Tomorrow, USGS, and the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe (SRMT) Environment Division will offer invaluable expertise in research, outreach, education, and extension.

“Support from the Disney Conservation Fund will help increase awareness about lake sturgeon and the challenges they face as a Threatened Species in New York.  Lake sturgeon populations are showing signs of recovery, and we want to encourage that recovery,” said project leader Dr. Jesse M. Lepak, Ph.D., New York Sea Grant’s Great Lakes Fisheries and Ecosystem Health Extension Specialist, Ithaca, N.Y.

Recent DCF-funded projects were selected based on their efforts to implement comprehensive community wildlife conservation programs, stabilize and increase populations of at-risk animals, and engage communities in conservation in critical ecosystems around the world.

For information on Disney’s commitment to conserve nature and a complete list of grant recipients, visit www.disney.com/conservation.

An eight-inch juvenile Lake Sturgeon swimming in the wild. Credit: USFWS-New York Field Office.

More Info: New York Sea Grant

New York Sea Grant (NYSG), a cooperative program of Cornell University and the State University of New York (SUNY), is one of 33 university-based programs under the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Sea Grant College Program.

Since 1971, NYSG has represented a statewide network of integrated research, education and extension services promoting coastal community economic vitality, environmental sustainability and citizen awareness and understanding about the State’s marine and Great Lakes resources.

Through NYSG’s efforts, the combined talents of university scientists and extension specialists help develop and transfer science-based information to many coastal user groups—businesses and industries, federal, state and local government decision-makers and agency managers, educators, the media and the interested public.

The program maintains Great Lakes offices at Cornell University, SUNY Buffalo, SUNY Oswego and the Wayne County Cooperative Extension office in Newark. In the State's marine waters, NYSG has offices at Stony Brook University in Long Island, Brooklyn College and Cornell Cooperative Extension in NYC and Kingston in the Hudson Valley.

For updates on Sea Grant activities: www.nyseagrant.org has RSS, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube links. NYSG offers a free e-list sign up via www.nyseagrant.org/nycoastlines for its flagship publication, NY Coastlines/Currents, which is published quarterly. Our program also produces an occasional e-newsletter,"NOAA Sea Grant's Social Media Review," via its blog, www.nyseagrant.org/blog.

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