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Nechako-White Sturgeon Fair Outlook or Sunset for an ancient fish? Nechako-White Sturgeon Fair Outlook or Sunset for an ancient fish? Cory Williamson Fisheries.

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Presentation on theme: "Nechako-White Sturgeon Fair Outlook or Sunset for an ancient fish? Nechako-White Sturgeon Fair Outlook or Sunset for an ancient fish? Cory Williamson Fisheries."— Presentation transcript:

1 Nechako-White Sturgeon Fair Outlook or Sunset for an ancient fish? Nechako-White Sturgeon Fair Outlook or Sunset for an ancient fish? Cory Williamson Fisheries Biologist Chair- Nechako Technical Working Group Cory Williamson Fisheries Biologist Chair- Nechako Technical Working Group

2 Nechako White sturgeon- Overview Biology Conservation Status Recovery Approach Stewardship Efforts

3 Ancient Lineage: 200 MYBP (end of Triassic) White sturgeon 9 million years Modern humans 0.5 million years Recruitment failure (<200 years) 27 sturgeon species world wide- 85% are critically imperilled Overfishing and dams causing recruitment failure IUCN has said sturgeon are the most imperiled group of animals on the planet Fossil sturgeon;150 MYBP, China

4 Occupy Nechako R, Stuart R, and other large lakes Vanderhoof annually- one site Eat salmon Ongoing recruitment failure Juveniles #’s insignificant Genetically distinct Smith et al. 2002; mitochondrial DNA; unique haplotypes only in Nechako group Schreier, 2012 (In Prep); 14 microSat- low genetic diversity- Upper Fraser DU, distinct from Mid Fraser and cryptic substructure 2 or 3 sub pops that rarely interbreed Nechako Population

5 Habitats Lake headed Northern extent of range

6 Nechako SG-5 Upper Fraser SG-4 Middle Fraser SG-3

7 Status: SARA- Schedule 1: Endangered ~80-90 year Nechako Female – April 2011 Recruitment Failure Since late 1960’s

8 Age Distribution – Age Distribution – Comparison through time Older fish more abundant in catch. Young fish dominant in catch.

9 “We have a cunning plan!” Recovery Plan for Nechako White Sturgeon March 2004

10 ?? XXXX SpawningSpawningEggEgg LarvaeHiding (1-15 days) LarvaeHiding LarvaeFeeding (40) days LarvaeFeeding Sub-Adults 1-m to maturity Sub-Adults Conservation Hatchery Goal: Preserve Genetic Breadth Conservation Hatchery Goal: Preserve Genetic Breadth Mature Adult Population (Stop-Gap)(Stop-Gap) White Sturgeon Life Stages Habitat Research/ Recruitment Restoration (Goal: Restore Natural Recruitment) Habitat Research/ Recruitment Restoration (Goal: Restore Natural Recruitment) Eliminate Unnatural Adult/ Sub-adult Mortality Goal: Retain Genetic Breadth Eliminate Unnatural Adult/ Sub-adult Mortality Goal: Retain Genetic Breadth Juveniles Less than 1-m Juveniles RecruitmentRecruitment Priority Areas for Activity HighHigh CriticalCritical Recovery Actions MediumMedium XX Severe bottleneck for recruitment Severe bottleneck for recruitment Recovery Goal: A naturally self-sustaining population

11 Refinement of our understanding of recruitment failure: Biology- larval survival, growth and behavior- preference for low velocities and clean gravels Habitat- Geomorphology define habitat requirements. Recruitment Restoration: Research:

12 Experimental Recruitment Restoration Goals: Goals: Large River Field Experiment to detect post-hiding, 15 day old larvae Increase understanding of sediment dynamics

13 2011- Recruitment Restoration Multi-phase project 1) Funding - Planning – Permitting ) Gravel Placement Fall- Spring ) Bio-Physical Monitoring Wild spawn monitoring- Bio-telemetry Egg Placement (hatchery spawn) (2011) Egg mats and pads D-ring Netting for larvae Substrate monitoring

14 2100 m 3 gravel-cobble added at two spawning sites

15 300,000 Eggs Placed 100% Fertilization Zero re-captured

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18 Nechako Conservation Centre: Outputs Target founder population: N m =2500 Up to 12 Maternal families annually Spring Releases: 12,000; g juveniles at age-1 All fish tagged and marked and tracked to maternal family. Eggs & larvae for research.

19 Nechako Conservation Centre: Status Design phase RAS Design 95% Complete Detailed architecture, Construction documents by Dec 2012 Begin construction? (2013?) 8 months to 1 year Need to start work in April for completion by next spawning season Facility in Operation? (2014?)

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23 Harm Reduction Eliminate un-natural mortality NWSRI- CWG developed boat kits for FN fishers to release sturgeon Sturgeon release video complete for 2012 season Assemblies to discuss harm reduction ongoing

24 Uncertain Future: Recovery is technically feasible; it’s a matter of modest resourcing Federal: focussed on planning Provincial: focussed on resource revenue projects Industry: will partner if government contributes NEEF; $800k/ year available for sturgeon recovery: but requires 50% matching

25 Nechako Sturgeon in the News: Hope in the public realm? Stephen Hume, Vancouver Sun October 12, 2012 “Nechako sturgeon forgotten in battle over northern gateway Province appears to have abandoned fight to save the endangered fish” Dene Moore, Canadian Press Sept. 26, 2012: “Environmentalists sue to force Ottawa to protect species along Northern Gateway route” “One of the most powerful foes of the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline through northern British Columbia is not a lawyer or a conservation group or any of the many First Nations who have lined up against the project. It’s a very large, very, very old fish.”

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27 Acknowledgements Carrier Sekani Tribal Council District of Vanderhoof Fisheries and Oceans Canada Freshwater Fisheries Society of BC BC Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations BC Ministry of Environment Rio Tinto Alcan Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada BC Wildlife Federation City of Prince George Environmental Dynamics Inc. Environment Canada Nature BC Fraser Basin Council Fraser River Sturgeon Conservation Society Golder Associates Ltd. Lheidli T'enneh Band Nechako River Alliance Nechako Watershed Council Resources North Association Saikuz First Nation School District 57 Sport Fishers Spruce City Wildlife Association Tl'azt'en Fisheries Program Triton Environmental Consultants

28 Questions?


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