Dwelling in deep pools of the Nechako River is a survivor from the age of the dinosaurs - the Nechako white sturgeon. This mysterious creature is the largest freshwater fish in Canada, and has existed relatively unchanged for millions of years – surviving volcanic eruptions, ice ages and climatic upheavals. But the Nechako white sturgeon is now swimming in a current of change that is taking it to the very brink of extinction. It is ranked as Critically Imperiled by the British Columbia Conservation Data Centre and is an Endangered Species according to the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC).
In the last 50 years, the Nechako white sturgeon population has dropped from what some scientists believe was a minimum of 5000 fish to less than 300. And the vast majority of those fish are more than 40 years old. The lack of younger fish means that sturgeon are either not reproducing successfully or that the young are not surviving to adulthood. As sturgeon do not begin spawning until they are 20 to 40 years old, the lack of young sturgeon in the Nechako means that an entire generation is already missing.
The NWSRI has many recovery projects underway that involve hands-on stream-level work, to multi-year research projects. You can read about some of the most recent projects by downing our 2015-2016 Annual Report. The 2016-2017 Annual report is in the process of being put together, and you can expect it before the end of 2017.
In October, the NWSRI with funding from the Habitat Stewardship Program and Rio Tinto, has partnered with School District 91 and the communities of Vanderhoof, Fraser Lake and Fort St. James to undertake a public education and outreach project for the endangered Nechako white sturgeon. Over the next two weeks school children will be painting sturgeon and salmon images at storm drains around the communities. The fish images will help remind citizens that storm drains lead to fish habitat. Putting hazardous materials, or even soap from washing your car, down storm drains can negatively impact aquatic systems and fish populations including the endangered Nechako white sturgeon. Nechako white sturgeon are found throughout the Nechako watershed, including the Nechako River, Fraser Lake, Stuart Lake and the Stuart River.
The City of Prince George has resources and great videos about keeping pollutants out of storm drains and some great videos on their website. These are easy videos to follow, and great to show students.
If you are out and about in Vanderhoof, Fraser Lake, or Fort St. James and you see a bunch of students with paint rollers, please stop and say hello and ask the students what they are learning about sturgeon recovery.
Emergency Sturgeon Live Release Boat Kit are being used now by First Nation fishers to help reduce harm to sturgeon caught as by-catch in the sustenance food fishery. Learn more about this project.
NOTE: We are into our winter tour schedule again. If you would like to book a tour at a different time, please email email@example.com and we will try to make it work.
Many thanks to Spencer and Alyssa for leading hundreds of visitors through tours of the Nechako White Sturgeon Conservation Centre. Both women are off to new jobs and we wish them good luck with their next ventures!
Funding for these tour guide/intern positions has been generously provided by Rio Tinto through their Donations and Sponsorships Program, which contributes to community-building initiatives in their host communities. Funding is dedicated for a program to increase opportunities for those interested in career paths in the fields of fisheries, fish culture or teaching for people in the communities of the Nechako Watershed. The funding will provide tour guides for the 2018 summer, so make sure to come and see us again next year.
One way for you to be a part of the recovery process of Nechako white sturgeon is to support us through donations and/or picking up some great souvenirs! We have lapel pins, sturgeon stuffies, and t-shirts. Check with our tour guides for prices.
School Tours - If you would like to book a tour for your classroom, please email the NWSCC tour guides: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com and they will do their best to accomodate your class before the end of the school year. Please note however, that tours from now until the end of June will be outside only, due to biosecurity issues for the young sturgeon.
For more information on any of our programs please visit the individual web page tab.
CONGRATULATIONS!! On January 31st 2008, at the regional Premier's Awards in Prince George, the NWSRI won a Silver Award in recognition of our our teamwork and success in promoting white sturgeon stewardship and work towards recovery of the population.
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