Code of the District of Columbia

Subchapter IV-B. Official Fish of the District of Columbia.


§ 1–166.01. Official fish of the District of Columbia.

(a) The American shad (Alosa sapidissima) is an anadromous species of game fish native to the eastern United States and Canada. Spending much of their lives at sea, American shad leave the ocean to find river systems and migrate, or "run," upstream into freshwater environments to spawn in their birthplaces, including the Potomac River.

(b) Once abundant in the Potomac River watershed and considered one of the most valuable commercial fisheries in the United States, the American shad has experienced species-threatening declines throughout the entirety of its native range. A combination of factors have contributed to these declines, such as overfishing, degraded water quality, the recovery of shad predator species, the closing of historic shad spawning waters, and the building of dams for hydroelectric power.

(c) In response to American shad population declines, the District and others, beginning in 2005, undertook restoration activities, including education, reopening fish passages, manual spawning, chemical marking, stocking, and identification. Since restoration efforts began, more than 10 miles of closed spawning surface waters have been opened and more than 10 million American shad hatchlings have been manually spawned and released.

(d) In 2011, the Potomac River Fisheries Commission reported that American shad population targets for the Potomac River established by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission have been met and that the American shad population for the Potomac River had recovered. The District will continue its restoration efforts to ensure the future of the species.

(e) The American shad (Alosa sapidissima) is hereby designated the official fish of the District of Columbia.


(May 19, 2017, D.C. Law 21-282, § 101, 64 DCR 2055.)