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Fisheries Population Assessment

Tribe Recieves $96,000 From St. Lawrence Restoration Fund

The Water Resources Program of the Environmental Division received a grant from the Fisheries Enhancement Mitigation Research Fund (FEMRF) to study the presence and distribution of fish that are threatened and endangered. The study includes fish species of greatest conservation need and other species that are declining or of commercial or ecological importance. The study will also support the NYS DEC State Wildlife Action Plan and increase understanding of the condition of the St. Lawrence River from Ogdensburg to Akwesasne. Water resources Program Manager Tony David was primarily responsible for writing the grant proposal.

The research has three goals: 1) locate populations of rare, threatened and endangered species within the U.S. St. Lawrence basin and Akwesasne territory, 2) estimate their relative abundances and identify the best habitat conditions and, 3) use the findings to identify threats, population status and to prioritize areas for protection and possible restoration.

"The Tribe has a vested interest in understanding the current state of threatened and endangered species for the St. Lawrence River and its tributaries to the downstream portion of Akwesasne," said Ken Jock, Director of the Tribe’s Environment Division. "The Mohawks of Akwesasne have sustained a traditional lifestyle from the harvest of fish from the St. Lawrence and its tributaries."

The work is expected to run for three years, starting in 2009. The first phase will involve developing the initial sampling model and technician training, followed by field collections and data processing. The second year will see continued field collections, data processing and summary report development and the third year, final reporting and data entry.

"We are pleased to be on the cutting edge of environmental assessment and preservation," said Tribal Chief James Ransom. "Fisheries are an important element of traditional Mohawk life and we feel we have an obligation to maintain them. Activities like this show that we are good stewards of the environment and good neighbors. Everybody benefits from a clean and healthy environment, not just us Mohawks." The health of the seaway is important to many groups and to local economies.

The grant, totaling $96,200 will contribute to the salaries and benefits for four staff, training, supplies, travel and administrative overhead. The Tribe will provide $11,000 in matching funds for a total of $107,200 to complete the three-year project.