Our award-winning, volunteer-driven monitoring and assessment program tracks the population health of this prehistoric species and provides critical data for river management.
Canada has six genetically distinct stocks of white sturgeon all of which are located in British Columbia. In 2003, all six stocks were designated “Endangered” by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC). In 2006, four of the six stocks were listed under the federal Species at Risk Act (SARA) and granted extended protections and support for stock-recovery initiatives.
Two stocks (lower Fraser and middle Fraser) were denied SARA listing based on the “potential negative socio-economic impacts” that could result from SARA protective measures. In the absence of SARA protection and stock-recovery support, the FRSCS has provided dedicated leadership and initiated stock-recovery projects for lower and middle Fraser River white sturgeon.
The monitoring and assessment program is currently ranked as the most important stock recovery action because it provides reliable information regarding abundance and stock status. Because the population has been declining since 2003, keeping track of this population, and understanding which components (size/age groups) of the population are declining, is a priority for fish stock managers.
The FRSCS’ Lower Fraser River White Sturgeon Monitoring and Assessment Program produces annual estimates of this population from a tagging-based, mark-recapture approach that works with volunteers to collect sampling data. Since April 2000, this program has relied on the in-kind efforts and contributions from angling guides, recreational, commercial, and Aboriginal fishermen, test fishery and enforcement personnel, post-secondary students, and various fishery monitors. Program volunteers are trained to sample and tag white sturgeon, and record and transfer data.