The fish lift/ladder combination at Conowingo Dam cost a huge amount of money, both to construct and operate. And to some degree, it worked, but not very well. keep in mind that the dam was built in 1920, and the shad runs still were pretty incredible until the mid 1970s, which is about the time that the offshore intercept fishery began. If you kill them before they reach the spawning grounds, then reproduction is not even remotely possible. Same goes for blueback and branch herring, both of which have been pretty much wiped out by the same commercial fishery.
Hatcheries do work, as was first witnessed with stocking lakes and tidal rivers with largemouth bass during the early 1960s. This was a time when the North East River was clogged with various forms of aquatic grasses that supported what was deemed the best largemouth bass fishery in the nation. It was here that huge numbers of largemouth bass were netted and placed in the nearby hatchery in the town of Elkton, spawned out, and hundreds of millions of juveniles were then transported throughout the US to be stocked in thousands of locations. The project was very successful.
While the fish ladders worked in the PNW, the salmon stocks were so depleted by commercial interests that the fishery had to be supplemented with a huge stocking program, which is what resurrected that fishery.
In nearby Delaware and Pennsylvania, their American shad fishery was restored in the Delaware River's upper reaches by supplemental stocking that took place for more than a decade. That fishery had been completely wiped out by commercial fishing. And, while it is still a mere skeleton of what it was a century ago, Delaware's shad runs have become a multi-million dollar industry for the recreational catch and release fisherman.
While the striped bass moratorium of the early 1980s was heralded as the big deal in restoring the striped bass fishery throughout the East Coast, in reality, supplemental stocking played a huge role in that restoration process. Again, this fishery was essentially wiped out by commercial interests, as they frequently targeted the big spawning stocks as they migrated to the spawning grounds during the winter months. I knew one commercial netter who fished out of Tilghman Island who often bragged of 10,000 daily catches in his gill nets during January and February. He told me that 90 percent of those fish were huge, roe laden females, fish that did not have the opportunity to spawn.
The striped bass hatchery program was the result of a joint effort by recreational and commercial fishermen in Maryland and was established where the old largemouth bass hatchery in Elkton was located. At the time, Maryland DNR Fisheries biologists said the hatchery would not work and the stripers could only spawn naturally - DNR was dead wrong. Only a half-million juvenile stripers were stocked that first year, but tagging studies revealed a 75 percent survival rate, which is huge compared to less than 1 percent in the wild.
As I stated at the onset, the best remedy to this would be to stop the offshore intercept fishery for shad, and the same goes for gill netting for striped bass. Fisheries scientist James Price once said "I don't know of a single fishery in the US that has been wiped out by pollution - they have all been decimated by overfishing, mainly by commercial interests."
All the best,
EXCELLENT analysis !!!!!!
Summary: too many people, not enough recipes (for people).
Recipe for cooking shad:
Take a large shad, fillet, then with pliers pull out large bones.
Place filet on 1/2" thick oak board
Cover (smother) fillet and board with onions, bacon, capers, string beans, etc.
Place in oven at 275°, cook for FIVE to SIX hours or until the ~7 million bones dissolve.
Hold board and cooked fish over garbage can, dump fish, eat the board.
Gary is correct NJ, NY, Penna and Delaware restored the shad fishery in the 1960s by continually adding hatchery fry into the Delaware River. The shad 'runs' in the Delaware have been substantial since that time. One of the reasons for the success is that the Delaware has NO 'full' dams (with the exception of the full dam at the confluence of the Lehigh and Delaware Rivers blocking the Lehigh River), only 'wing dams' which raise the water by a few feet, the center of the wing system is completely open. In some years, one can literally almost walk across the shad migrating up the Delaware.
However, the important aspect of the upper Delaware River is that it was never despoiled by industrialization or farming practices or massive sewage run-off from 'cities' (above the confluence of the Lehigh) and there it remains the cleanest and purest river on the east coast. The Delaware river is so pure and CLEAN that the power plants located along it do not have to 'demineralize' and return the water to the river with no added 'gunk'/silt/human crap, etc. The danger for the upper Delaware River (and the Pocono Mountains) is that this area is becoming a distant, intense hideously ugly sprawling suburb for New York City.
The same was attempted with striped bass on the Delaware; but, was not ever completely successful as commercial fishing in the lower bay always seemed to harvest the amount greater than what was added by the hatchery operations.
More importantly the once massive menhaden fishery along the NJ coast, Delaware Bay and Chesapeake is now completely gone, probably will never return.
The eel fishery on the Delaware, once much larger than the shad fishery is 'gone'; yet the few remaining eels are being fished out due to the demand from Europe where the europeans caught all their eels and the EU rivers no longer produce even few eels.
The very lucrative eel fishery on the Chesapeake has resumed; but, obvious overfishing is apparent .... no more eels to be seen in the small freshwater feeder creeks in spring.
Chesapeake - stripers again dwindling, crabs and oysters at historic lows, menhaden - probably not enough to restock even with a moratorium, the various species of shad - rare. White perch ('ocean perch') and few remaining eels now under intense pressure.
All the while the city of Baltimore, with sovereign immunity, continues to dump zillions of gallons of raw sewage into the Chesapeake. Anyone who risks swimming in the upper Ches. during the height of summer now risks a very serious mycobacteria skin infection - sewage!!!
---- 'the tyranny of the commons'. Sometimes one thinks about what positive results would happen if the commercial fisherman would fish for PEOPLE.
Actually american shad is a wonderful eating fish .... you just have to slow cook for hours at relatively low heat, so that all the bones are either dissolved or softened. A developed taste, Yum.