Outreach Inspiring Lake Sturgeon Conservation
Publications: Success Stories - Extension (2020)

Juvenile lake sturgeon prior to being stocked into the Lake Ontario watershed where it may survive to be over 100 years old! Credit: Jesse Lepak, NYSG

Encouraging conservation of the Lake Sturgeon, a New York State threatened and ecologically and historically significant species, is at the heart of a NYSG outreach effort


Jesse M. Lepak, Ph.D., NYSG Fisheries and Ecosystem Specialist, P: 315-312-3042, E: jml78@cornell.edu

Oswego, NY, March 2, 2020 - Currently, Lake Sturgeon are listed as a threatened species in New York. A combination of habitat degradation and overfishing has been implicated in the decline of the ecologically, culturally, and formerly economically important species. Interestingly, in a recent review of Lake Sturgeon status, it was stated that aside from direct threats, the greatest threat to Lake Sturgeon recovery is likely, “the loss of interest on the part of the public and politicians” (Bruch et al. 2016). Throughout the Great Lakes region including New York, there are ongoing efforts focused on Lake Sturgeon restoration.

In October 2018, New York Sea Grant (NYSG) received a grant from the Disney Conservation Fund to focus on Lake Sturgeon outreach and education. Lake Sturgeon conservation messaging was developed and delivered in a variety of ways to multiple stakeholders and groups. 

For example:

• Collaborative efforts with partners included displays  at sport and outdoor shows throughout New York highlighting the importance and unique nature of Lake Sturgeon. NYSG organized or co-organized additional targeted events, and a brief video was released along with other social media.

• Events with Lake Sturgeon displays were attended by more than 25,000 people, with hundreds engaged directly by the project’s principal investigator. Collaborations by NYSG, the Aquarium of Niagara, Buffalo Niagara Waterkeeper, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, and 4-H reached 56 students in programs that dealt specifically with Lake Sturgeon conservation. 

• More than 21,700 people were reached via Facebook and Twitter posts/shares and NYSG website stories referencing the NYSG Lake Sturgeon video. 

• Wooden Lake Sturgeon replicas were produced and delivered to project partners that interact with thousands of stakeholders annually.

Project outreach and education efforts will continue in 2020.

Related story: On YouTube: NYSG Receives Disney Conservation Fund Support for Lake Sturgeon Restoration Efforts

The Sea Grant Focus Area for this project is Environmental Literacy & Workforce Development in New York. 

Project Partners: 
• New York State Department of Environmental Conservation
• U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service-New York
• New York Sturgeon for Tomorrow
• U.S. Geological Survey
• Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe Environment Division 
• Disney Conservation Fund

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 34 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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