A plan to cull 6,000 juvenile sturgeon at Vanderhoof’s White Sturgeon Recovery Initiative has been cancelled.
The plan came to light last week and prompted immediate opposition from the Carrier Sekani Tribal Council, who called the plan “unnecessary destruction.”
After multiple conversations with both the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resources and the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans, all 12,000 fish will be released into the Nechako River.
“We understand that there might be some sort of overpopulation risk,” says Jackie Thomas, Chief of the local Saik’uz First Nation, on whose territory the hatchery sits. “However, we’re willing to take the risk because we don’t believe the mortality is the same as in the Columbia and that’s basically why they were trying to do the cull.”
She says the original plan to cull the sturgeon left her nauseous.
Thomas believes mortality rates in the Nechako to be higher than in the Columbia but says more monitoring needs to be done to determine how many of the young fish survive to adulthood. She would also like to see the hatchery work more closely with local Indigenous stakeholders to ensure appropriate numbers of young sturgeon are being raised.
“If we’re not going to be releasing 12 or 12 is too much, then maybe we need to work together to make sure we have the right number, whether it be 6 or 8 or whatever the number is. I’m hoping we can work together in the future and I’m counting on it.”
The Vanderhoof hatchery is hosting its annual sturgeon release on May 11. Kids from the local school district and beyond will be in town to participate.