I remembered that a decade later when someone told me that there were so few shad left in the Hudson that Cronin was on his way down to the Delaware River to buy shad to serve at Riverkeeper's annual Hudson River shad-fest.
And now another decade or so has past and the Riverkeeper's shad-fest has come to this: shad will be completely missing from the menu:
For the past few years, Riverkeeper, the Hudson River conservation group, has been easing the fish off the menu of the festival it stages in Garrison, N.Y. This year’s event, on May 18, will be completely shad-free.
The issue is simple conservation. Shad swim from the ocean to the upper reaches of rivers each spring to spawn. In the Hudson River, the number of shad has been dwindling because of overfishing and decades of environmental sins.
This year, some biologists predict the run might be the smallest in memory, prompting the state Department of Conservation to enact emergency restrictions on commercial and recreational shad fishing. The shad is the only Hudson River fish that can be sold commercially.
In a show of support for Riverkeeper’s decision, shad was taken off the menu at the Hudson River Maritime Festival May 10, too. Their motto: Please don’t eat the shad. Save the shad.
If you want to read something else that is sad, in retrospect, read William Warner's Beautiful Swimmers: Watermen, Crabs and the Chesapeake Bay. Sad because the incredible bounty he wrote about 40 years ago has been so severely compromised, in the same way that the Hudson has been compromised by the loss of shad and Long Island Sound compromised by the loss of lobsters. I read Warner's book while I was working on mine, just as I read Bob Boyle's The Hudson River: A Natural and Unnatural History. Warner died yesterday at age 88.