help save the nechako white sturgeon

Updates on Current Projects

Each year NWSRI’s Technical and Community Working Groups write grants, solicit funding and provide countless volunteer hours in order to undertake a number of projects aimed at researching the problems facing the Nechako white sturgeon as well as keeping the plight of the sturgeon within the publics’ eye.  The TWG is responsible for identifying the reasons for the decline of white sturgeon in the Nechako watershed, and for the design and implementation of habitat protection, restoration and management options, while the CWG focuses on increasing the public’s awareness and knowledge about the recovery process, as well as the ecological problems facing the Nechako white sturgeon. 

Following we have highlighted some of our recent research and outreach initiatives. To learn more about our programs and/or for complete project details please refer to our Annual Reports

Research Projects - TWG

Juvenile Indexing

The juvenile indexing program has been occurring for several years, however this summer and fall, additional effort has been put into indexing (catching and counting) juvenile sturgeon that are one-10 years of age. Carrier Sekani Tribal Council, along with Freshwater Fisheries Society of BC are working side-by-side to gather as much information as possible to help determine where hatchery released sturgeon are going after release, how much they are growing, as well as if there are wild spawned sturgeon the same again in the system. More on this coming soon. 

As a result of this juvenile sampling, we have recaptured some of the student released hatchery sturgeon from the past few years. Go to the Where is My Fish page and search for recaptures to see how far these fish have moved, and how much they have grown!

Outreach & Harm Reduction Programs - CWG

Healthy Watershed for Sturgeon Curriculum

The Healthy Watersheds for Sturgeon school program and Sturgeon School Kit are available free of charge to schools within SD91. Program packages are also available to all schools regardless of District for the base charge of materials and shipping.  If your school would like to receive the Healthy Watersheds for Sturgeon Program (grades 4-7) please contact the NWSRI Recovery Coordinator.

The curriculum was developed in 2014, and has been growing and expanding ever since. There are several resources available to teachers and students on our Education page.

Emergency Sturgeon Live Release Boat Kit & Video

The First Nation Food, Social and Ceremonial salmon fishery is known to result in the by-catch of mature, breeding sturgeon.  The Nechako White Sturgeon Recovery Initiative (NWSRI) in partnership with the Carrier Sekani Tribal Council (CSTC) developed an Emergency Sturgeon Release Boat Kit which contains all of the tools necessary for the successful release of live sturgeon from a gill net.  The kit also contains netting web patches as a temporary fix for nets if they have been damaged during the live release of a by-caught sturgeon.  The Boat Kit pilot program began part way through the fishing season in 2011 when we invited fisher-family members in the Nechako watershed to participate. The program was a success that year, and has grown. As of 2016, 58 sturgeon have been released live from gill nets within the waters of the Nechako River, and Upper Fraser River. Numbers from the 2017 salmon fishing year are yet to be calculated.

For additional information and to learn how you can release a sturgeon safely from a net, view the “Every Sturgeon Counts: How to Live Release a Sturgeon from a Gill Net” video at


The NWSRI has new brochures, made in 2016. These brochures provide a great background to many of the projects and partnerships of the NWSRI.

Outreach Projects - CWG

Please visit the Events tab for further details and pictures of our past events and also to see where we will be next!

Storm Drain Painting > View Photo Gallery

On October 11, 2017 two teams of five students from Mrs. Stephanie Carpenter’s Grade 5-6 class at Evelyn Dickson Elementary School in Vanderhoof carted their supplies around Vanderhoof painting sturgeon and salmon images at storm drains. During the day, students discussed why this is an important project to help in the recovery of the endangered Nechako white sturgeon. The overall message the students came up with was that storm drains lead to the Nechako River, and if you put chemicals in storm drains you hurt sturgeon and fish habitat. More classes will be heading out when the weather improves in the spring of 2018. Classes will be from Vanderhoof, Fort St. James and Fraser Lake.

Students are very aware about the endangered Nechako white sturgeon, as many have learned about them in their classrooms from teachers using the Nechako White Sturgeon School Curriculum, or they have toured the Nechako White Sturgeon Conservation Centre, and all the students have been involved in releasing a juvenile sturgeon into the Nechako River during the sturgeon release event that happens each May. 

Students each had an important role for this project: the blower/broomer, the ‘stenciller’, the painters, and the sign person. Mrs. Carpenter made sure students were safe, but all the students were well aware of keeping safe, as they were working on some busy roads. Several students remarked how they felt like they were doing a real job in the community, especially when they got paint on their faces. “I am really working now” said one student with a big smile and one small dot of paint on her face.

As an additional resource, 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. 

This project was supported and funded from several sources. The District of Vanderhoof Public Works crew provided a map of the storm drain locations, as well as safety cones for warning drivers that people were working on the road. As well, the School District 91 Trades and Careers Program provided the cart and safety vests and toques. Rio Tinto provided funding to buy supplies such as the paint, gloves, and signage. And the Federal Government’s Habitat Stewardship Program provided the overall funding for planning and delivery of this program in the Nechako watershed.

Juvenile Sturgeon Release

By far our most popular outreach event is the Juvenile Sturgeon Release event held in May. The our first Save-Our-Sturgeon (SOS) event took place in October 2006 and was attended by 1,100 schoolchildren from School District 91 where they each released a hatchery reared 4 month old juvenile sturgeon into the Nechako River. This event took place again in 2007 and 2008 where between 900 - 1,100 juvenile sturgeon were released at each event. Unfortunately, from 2009 to 2013, the event did not happen, due to the lack of a hatchery project during that time. In 2014, the Nechako White Sturgeon Conservation Centre opened it's doors as one of the most state-of-the-art hatchery facilities in North America. From past experience, and knowledge gain from the pilot hatchery program, the 2015 please event saw roughly 2,000 one-year old sturgeon released into the Nechako River. In 2016, over 9,000 were released, and in 2016 12,000 fish were released in total. In each of those years, over 600 students were involved in releasing upwards to 700 of the hatchery reared fish into the Nechako River at Riverside Park. The event has grown into not only a sturgeon release event, but to an entire day of education and awareness for students, teachers and the general public, with booths about: everything to do with salmon; sturgeon life cycle and ecology; and, watersheds and groundwater. Students even get a free lunch out of the event, sponsored by the District of Vanderhoof. 

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