New agreement in place to try to resurrect fish species in Susquehanna

Written by Ben Allen, General Assignment Reporter | Apr 28, 2016 1:31 PM

(Harrisburg) -- Federal officials and a power company recently reached an agreement to try to resurrect a fish species in the Susquehanna River.

The effort involves trapping a 100,000 fish, trucking them upriver past dams, and transferring them back to the water.

The strategy to revive the American Shad population was tried in the 1990s, but ended after fish lifts were installed on dams.

The fish were typically transferred back to the Susquehanna above the York Haven Dam.

Josh Trininewski, a biologist with the state Fish and Boat Commission, says the shad population fell when the effort stopped.

"Once that trap and transport went away, there was very little natural reproduction occurring above York Haven Dam because we weren't getting as many fish upriver, of all four of the dams," says Trininewski.

"But we're encouraged because we know it did work, getting adults into the river, allowing them to spawn naturally. They know what they're doing and they do it best. I see it as a good way to jump start this process and jump start the restoration," he adds.

Now, it's getting restarted, the result of an agreement between the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Exelon, which owns the Conowingo Dam.

Exelon is trying to get an extension of its federal license to operate the dam in Maryland.

However, Trininewski, speaking on WITF's Smart Talk, says about 20 percent of adult fish don't survive the trip back downriver and out to the Chesapeake Bay.

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