Sturgeon numbers swimming shallow

A majority of fish at the Nechako White Sturgeon Conservation Centre in Vanderhoof have died.

Cory Williamson

Cory Williamson

Over three quarters of the fish at the Nechako White Sturgeon Conservation Centre have died over the past month.

The new sturgeon recovery facility in Vanderhoof found difficulty dealing with the recent heat wave and water-temperature fluctuation, which created high levels of stress in the fish, said Cory Williamson, facility manager and chair of the Nechako White Sturgeon Recovery Initiative.

“It’s a complicated piping system and understanding how it operates was challenging. The river temperatures have been high and a bacterial outbreak happened at the same time,” said Mr. Williamson. “But the biggest factor here is learning how to use the technology. It’s all new to us, learning to grow fish in these tanks.”

The goal for the Fresh Water and Fisheries Society project was to release 12,000 sturgeon back into the Nechako river this spring. The hatchery started with 100,000 eggs, expecting to loose over half by their first feeding; it is normal to have a high loss during this stage because the juvenile (young) fish are extremely picky eaters. It is also normal to loose a few more throughout the process but by mid July numbers were lower than anticipated (around ten thousand) and have now dwindled to two thousand over the past month.

“Unfortunately the other stressors occurred during the critical feeding stage that caused even more of a loss. If this happened two weeks later, or if the fish were two weeks older, we wouldn’t have had this problem,” said Mr. Williamson. “It’s bad timing.”

Water temperatures were seen as high as 20 degrees during the initial feeding stage, which created stress on the fish and a viable temperature for bacteria to grow. Since the type of bacteria the fish naturally carry becomes more active once fish are stressed, an infection broke out killing most of the smaller fish with less developed immune systems, said Mr. Williamson.

“[However] the expected survival rate is actually higher now because with less fish in the facility, there is more room for the remaining fish to grow,” said Mr. Williamson, who anticipates the release of 1,000-1,500 strong fish by spring.

Prepared for some challenges, Don Peterson, president of the Fresh Water and Fisheries Society, is confident the project will have better success next year. “It’s a learning experience for the staff and the society in general. We expected to have some challenges and hoped to overcome them quickly enough without impact on the fish, but unfortunately the situation arose we couldn’t mitigate it quickly enough. It’s a brand new facility with brand new hatchery technology, which gives advantages but is definitely a learning curve. We are confident we will get better in upcoming years with the focus now on getting as many of the last few thousand fish to yearling size as possible.”

 

 

Just Posted

Seafest is underway with a sunfest theme from June 11 to 13 in Prince Rupert. Alex Hoogendorn vice president of Prince Rupert Special Events is creating sunny times making feature for the decorating contest with his son Caleb Hoogendorn on June 4. (K-J Millar/The Northern View)
Seafest 44 plans a sunfest June 11 to 13 in Prince Rupert

All events in festival are COVID-19 safe, social distancing and health protocols approved by N.H.A.

Relay for Life will be held virtually on June 12. Donations and registered teams are decreased in numbers this year, but there is still time to register. Cancer survivors, Isaac Mastroianni and his dad Mark Mastroianni, wear their Canadian Cancer Society Relay for Life survivors shirts. (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)
A lifeline for many, Relay for Life now needs community support

Prince Rupert is one of just four cities in B.C. with teams registered the June 12 event

Coho is one of many fish species that will benefit from a project to assess fish passage in the Falls River Watershed and offer options for improved connectivity and habitat restoration. The project will be delivered with funding from the Fish and Wildlife Compensation Program announced on June 8. (Photo: supplied by FWCP, istock, M.Haring)
More than $2.1 million for Northcoast fish and wildlife projects

Falls River Watershed SE of Prince Rupert to have fish passage and habitat study

Taylor Bachrach, NDP MP for Skeena-Bulkley Valley addresses Parliament on June 7, in call for the federal government to stop fighting Indigenous children in court and to implement the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Call to Action. (Image: supplied from Facebook)
NDP motion calling for immediate reconciliation action passes

Skeena-Bulkley MP Taylor Bachrach addresses federal Parliament

Salmon Arm ICBC Service centre. Lachlan Labere/ Salmon Arm Observer
Backlog: New drivers travel from as far as Prince Rupert for road test in Salmon Arm

Salmon Arm man unable to get his road test until late November in Kelowna

At an outdoor drive-in convocation ceremony, Mount Royal University bestows an honorary Doctor of Laws on Blackfoot Elder and residential school survivor Clarence Wolfleg in Calgary on Tuesday, June 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
‘You didn’t get the best of me’: Residential school survivor gets honorary doctorate

Clarence Wolfleg receives honorary doctorate from Mount Royal University, the highest honour the school gives out

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller is seen during a news conference, Wednesday May 19, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Indigenous child-welfare battle heads to court despite calls for Ottawa to drop cases

Feds are poised to argue against two Canadian Human Rights Tribunal rulings

The Great Ogopogo Bathtub Race has been held in Summerland as a fundraising event. Do you know which Canadian city introduced this sport? (Black Press file photo)
QUIZ: A summer’s day at the water

How much do you know about boats, lakes and water?

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod laughs while playing with Lucky the puppy outside their Chilliwack home on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: B.C. family finds ‘perfect’ puppy with limb difference for 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy has special bond with Lucky the puppy who was also born with limb difference

A million-dollar ticket was sold to an individual in Vernon from the Lotto Max draw Friday, June 11, 2021. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lottery ticket worth $1 million sold in Vernon

One lucky individual holds one of 20 tickets worth $1 million from Friday’s Lotto Max draw

“65 years, I’ve carried the stories in my mind and live it every day,” says Jack Kruger. (Athena Bonneau)
‘Maybe this time they will listen’: Survivor shares stories from B.C. residential school

Jack Kruger, living in Syilx territory, wasn’t surprised by news of 215 children’s remains found on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School

A logging truck carries its load down the Elaho Valley near in Squamish, B.C. in this file photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chuck Stoody
Squamish Nation calls for old-growth logging moratorium in its territory

The nation says 44% of old-growth forests in its 6,900-square kilometre territory are protected while the rest remain at risk

Flowers and cards are left at a makeshift memorial at a monument outside the former Kamloops Indian Residential School to honour the 215 children whose remains are believed to have been discovered buried near the city in Kamloops, B.C., on Monday, May 31, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Pick a Sunday:’ Indigenous leaders ask Catholics to stay home, push for apology

Indigenous leaders are calling on Catholics to stand in solidarity with residential school survivors by not attending church services

Most Read