help save the nechako white sturgeon

About Nechako White Sturgeon

2017  sturgeon release

Dwelling in the waters of Nechako River watershed is a survivor from the age of the dinosaurs – White Sturgeon (Acipenser transmontanus). This magnificent animal is the largest freshwater fish in Canada, and has existed relatively unchanged for millions of years. It is likely that White Sturgeon arrived to the Nechako watershed from the Upper Columbia River system when the two were connected over 10,000 years ago after the last ice-age. Since that time, the White Sturgeon in the Nechako River appear to have remained almost exclusively within its waters, using the deep waters of the river and lakes for winter refuge and, in late spring, congregating to spawn in the river. Research to date indicates the Upper Fraser Designation Unit (DU) of White Sturgeon (Upper Fraser, Middle Fraser and Nechako River populations) is genetically distinct from other populations and within that DU, the Nechako River White Sturgeon is a unique group.

It is unknown how many adult sturgeon historically inhabited the Nechako watershed. Dakelh Elders share that for centuries their people caught White Sturgeon, and a record from the Hudson Bay Company from 1818 reports 21 sturgeon 2.2-3.6m in length being caught in Stuart Lake. The most recent estimates suggest there are 630 adult sturgeon[1] and very few naturally-spawned young sturgeon in the Nechako River. Since sturgeon do not begin spawning until 20 to 40 years of age, the lack of young sturgeon means that an entire generation is missing. If nothing changes, there may be too few mature animals to sustain the population and Nechako White Sturgeon could become extirpated. This has led to Nechako White Sturgeon being listed as Critically Imperiled by the British Columbia Conservation Data Centre, as Endangered according to the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC), and as an Endangered Species under the Species at Risk Act (SARA).

[1] Carruthers et. al. in preparation. 2012 estimate.

Explore this website to learn all about Nechako White Sturgeon and the projects, programs, and educational resources of the Nechako White Sturgeon Recovery Initiative.

Nechako White Sturgeon Recovery Initiative

The Nechako White Sturgeon Recovery Initiative (NWSRI) was formed in 2000 with the goal of returning the Nechako White Sturgeon to a self-sustaining population. The NWSRI has a Recovery Plan that guides projects and further research. 

The 2018-2019 NWSRI Annual Report is now available! See what projects have happened on sturgeon and some of the results we have found over the years. If you want a quick summary of the projects - download our summary brochureClick here to view all Annual Reports.

Keep up-to-date...  

• The Where is My Fish page has been updated. Check-in on any fish you or your school have released to see if they have been recaptured! 

• Follow us on Facebook to get all the up-to-date information about Nechako White Sturgeon.

• Check out the  for reminders on what is happening year round for Nechako White Sturgeon. Teachers who do not have a school calendar can request one for FREE, or download it from our Education page.




Every Sturgeon Counts - and so do your ideas!

Emergency Sturgeon Live Release Boat Kit Program is finishing up for another year of fishing. The NWSRI is currently working on a project to evaluate and promote the Boat Kit Program for 2019. If you have ideas on how to help make the Boat Kit Program a great success, please contact us at Learn more about this project.

New spawning season ahead of us...

Freshwater Fisheries Society, along with volunteers and researchers with the NWSRI are preparing for the 2020 brood capture and spawning season at the Nechako White Sturgeon Conservation Centre. Check back here, but also keep an eye on our Facebook page for all the details.

Nechako White Sturgeon Conservation Centre

Nechako White Sturgeon Conservation Centre 

At this time the facility is closed to the public until further notice due to COVID-19. More information can be found at

Please follow our Facebook page to see what we are up to inside! 




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. This is year three of this funding.


One way for you to be a part of the recovery process of Nechako white sturgeon is to support us through cash donations and/or purchasing some great souvenirs! We have lapel pins, sturgeon stuffies, and t-shirts. Check with our tour guides for the suggested donation price of these items.


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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