WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Chris Van Hollen and Ben Cardin (both D-Md.) have announced more than $296,000 in federal funding for the Maryland Department of Natural Resources to study Nanticoke River Atlantic sturgeon.
Atlantic sturgeon were thought to have all but disappeared from Maryland waters due to overfishing and habitat loss, until biologists in Maryland and Delaware recently found adult sturgeon in the Nanticoke River and its streams for the first time in 40 years. The funding, awarded through the National Ocean and Atmospheric Agency (NOAA) Fisheries’ Species Recovery Grant Program, will develop new ways to estimate the spawning run size of these newly discovered – yet potentially critically endangered – fish within Chesapeake Bay. It is a joint project with the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control.
“Protecting the Chesapeake Bay and its wildlife is of paramount importance to Maryland – for both our environment and our economy. The Atlantic sturgeon have been in the Bay for over a hundred years – but their numbers have become so dwindled that scientists thought they disappeared from the Bay altogether. This investment will help better track and protect this vital species in their newly rediscovered home,” said Senator Van Hollen, a member of the Environment and Public Works and Appropriations Committees.
“Finding a balance between commercial and recreational activity and protecting local wildlife is critical to a healthy and thriving Chesapeake Bay. We are lucky to have a second chance to work toward rebuilding the Atlantic sturgeon population,” said Senator Cardin, a senior member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. “I am proud of the efforts of Maryland scientists in this research and pleased that these federal funds will help them to do their jobs.”
NOAA, which is headquartered in Silver Spring, MD, is a scientific agency within the U.S. Department of Commerce that focuses on the conditions of the oceans, major waterways, and the atmosphere. Its Species Recovery Grants Program is a long-standing, successful grant program that supports high-priority recovery actions for listed species.