Fraser River Sturgeon Conservation

Having almost been wiped out by mankind in the last 100 years, Fraser River Sturgeon conservation is of utmost importance.

Sturgeon have been dated as far back as 65 million years, to when the dinosaurs roamed the Earth. They can survive in both salt and freshwater, and often travel back and forth between the two. One thing that the tagging program has shown us, is that the Sturgeon travel back and forth between the Columbia River and the Fraser River, and can basically travel anywhere between California and Alaska.

The White Sturgeon is the largest and longest live species of freshwater fish in North America, and is the apex predator in the Fraser River.  The Fraser River is lucky enough to have some of the largest known populations in North America. However, Sturgeon populations in the Fraser River are not what they used to be. Fortunately conservation efforts are helping the issue.

Sturgeon numbers started to diminish in the late 1800’s due to over fishing. By the 1900s the fishery was only one tenth of the original population. Reasons to blame for the decline were over fishing and habitat loss. However, no conservation efforts were established until 1994 just after 34 Sturgeon mysteriously washed up along the shore dead. After considerable research, no one could find the answer as to what caused the Sturgeons demise, but this event jump started Sturgeon conservation efforts.

The concern over the status of the species led to a 5-year provincial project called the Conservation of White Sturgeon in the Lower Fraser River conducted from 1995-1999. As a result of this project, the Fraser River Sturgeon Conservation Society (FRSCS) was created. To this day, the Fraser River Sturgeon Conservation Society collects data to research issues that affect the recovery of Sturgeon in the Fraser River and have so far tages over 80,000 Sturgeon.

When a fish is caught, it is carefully measured for both length and girth, and then scanned for a tag. If it already has a tag it is recorded along with the location in the river. If it is not tagged one will be applied. If a fish is recaptured more than a couple times, we will begin to see growth rates and travel patterns. The Sturgeon is a slow-growing fish, averaging only 2 to 3 cm per year.

The Fraser River Sturgeon Conservation Society (FRSCS) has spent more than the past decade investigating issues that affect the recovery of Fraser River White Sturgeon using data collected through a volunteer tagging and recapture monitoring program. Johnny’s Sport Fishing has been part of the volunteer Sturgeon tagging program since 1999 and have tagged thousands of Sturgeon. You will see this process on your Sturgeon fishing trip with us.

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