Royalty of the River:
Kennebec Sturgeon Status

Tom Squiers
Fisheries Biologist, formerly MDMR

April 13, 2016 - 7:00pm
Curtis Library Memorial Library, Brunswick, Maine

Friends of Merrymeeting Bay’s (FOMB) seventh presentation of its 19th annual Winter Speaker Series: Royalty of the River: Kennebec Sturgeon Status features Tom Squiers, fisheries biologist. The event, taking place Wednesday, April 13th, 7:00pm at Curtis Memorial Library, 23 Pleasant St., Brunswick, is free and open to the public.

Kenneth Edgecomb at his commercial sturgeon fishing operation on Sturgeon Island,
Merrymeeting Bay circa 1900.Bath Times Photo

Sturgeon, dating back 200 million years, are among the most primitive of the bony fishes. With no internal skeleton, their body surface contains five rows of bony plates, or "scutes." They are typically large, long-lived fish that inhabit a great diversity of riverine habitat, from the fast-moving freshwater riverine environment downstream and, for some species, into the offshore marine environment of the continental shelf. Sturgeon have been harvested typically for their roe, known as cavier and for their meat.

Merrymeeting Bay and the Kennebec estuary provide spawning and nursery habitat for the large [up to 20’] and threatened Atlantic sturgeon and steady habitat for the endangered shorter [3-4’] shortnose sturgeon. Numbers of sturgeon in the Gulf of Maine are significantly lower than historical levels and have remained so for the past 100 years. The Kennebec/Androscoggin and Bay are probably the only remaining spawning areas in the Gulf of Maine. Originally decimated from overfishing, threats to the species continue from habitat degradation, dredging, accidental capture and potential injury and mortality as “incidental take” in other fisheries. Despite their diminished status, it has become common to see sturgeon leaping from the Bay in the summertime.

Tom Squiers was employed by the Maine Department of Marine Resources (MDMR) for 36 years, retiring in 2009. For many years he directed their Stock Enhancement Division. Squiers’ responsibilities involved the management and restoration of diadromous fish which includes striped bass, American shad, alewife, blueback herring, rainbow smelt, Atlantic sturgeon, shortnose sturgeon, and American eel. He conducted several studies to assess the status of shortnose sturgeon and Atlantic sturgeon in the Kennebec River. Squiers was a member of the Shortnose Sturgeon Recovery Team which published the Final Recovery Plan for the Shortnose Sturgeon, Acipenser brevirostrum in 1998 and served on the Shortnose Sturgeon Status Review Team for the National Marine Fisheries Service which published the Biological Assessment of Shortnose Sturgeon in 2010. He was also a member of the Atlantic Sturgeon Status Review Team which published the Status Review of Atlantic Sturgeon Acipenser oxyrinchus oxyrinchus in 1998. Squiers received his M.S. Degree in Zoology from the University of Maine in Orono in 1973.

FOMB hosts their Winter Speaker Series October-May on the second Wednesday of each month. The May 11th presentation, In the Company of Bears features Ben Kilham, Independent Wildlife Biologist and Author. Speaker Series presentations are always free and open to the public and supported by Patagonia, Inc. in Freeport. Visit to see speaker biographies, full event schedules, become a member, and learn more about how you can help protect beautiful Merrymeeting Bay.

Call Kathleen McGee, 666-3598


Watercolors by
Sarah Stapler