DNR, Mirant Continue Partnership to Restore Atlantic Sturgeon

ANNAPOLIS (Aug. 21, 2008)—The Maryland Department of Natural Resources on Tuesday announced a continued partnership with Mirant Potomac River Generating Station’s for an Atlantic sturgeon restoration project for the Potomac River. As part of the renewed partnership, Mirant will provide up to $325,000 over the next five years to support restoration activities of Atlantic sturgeon (Acipenser oxyrinchus), the only large bottom feeders present in the Chesapeake Bay.

“Atlantic sturgeon existed historically along the entire Atlantic coast and at one time, played an important ecological role in the Chesapeake Bay ecosystem,” said DNR Secretary John Griffin. “Mirant’s funding and continued support of this fishery restoration project offers hope that the once abundant sturgeon can grow and prosper in its natural habitat again in the future.”

Overfishing, degraded water quality and man-made stream blockages drastically reduced the Atlantic sturgeon’s population. By 1928, sturgeon were rarely caught north of the Potomac River. Research by the USFWS-Maryland Fishery Resources Office concluded in 2004 that Atlantic sturgeon restoration in Maryland would not likely occur without hatchery supplementation.

“We are so proud of our successful partnership with DNR, and we believe wholeheartedly that these mutually beneficial partnerships are an important component of all Maryland’s fish restoration efforts,” said Misty Allen, External Affairs Manager at Mirant Mid-Atlantic LLC. “We recently expressed our steadfast commitment to the project for the next five years to continue sturgeon restoration.”

DNR and Mirant first began a pilot culture trial on the Potomac River in the summer of 2006. Positive findings from the effort led to larger scale culture trial in 2007. Mirant Mid-Atlantic LLC provided funding for manpower, materials, culture space and water supply, while DNR designed and constructed the research facility.

“The overarching aim of our restoration project is to culture a healthy, captive brood stock of genetically diverse sturgeon adults that will provide larvae and juvenile fish for restoration stocking,” explained Brian Richardson, DNR Fisheries Restoration Manager.

The facility will also serve as an education and outreach tool since it is included on plant tours.

Source: Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR)

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