The Carrier Sekani Tribal Council says up to six thousand Nechako White Sturgeon will be destroyed by Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations. It says the decision was made without consulting First Nations, who consider the sturgeon to be culturally important. According to Tribal Chief Terry Teegee, the Nechako White Sturgeon Recovery Initiative planned to release 12,000 sturgeon into the Nechako next week, however the CSTC says the government plan will only release six thousand, and destroy the remaining six thousand.
Teegee says the CSTC has been in talks with the Ministry to find alternatives to the cull, such as a commercial aquiculture facility or stocking the fish into suitable local lakes in the Nechako watershed, where they could support a commercial, but the “red tape” is prohibiting such alternatives.
“Unless we agree on an annual rearing and release plan or contingency plan, we’re likely to find ourselves in a similar position in coming years, which is unacceptable,” says Teegee.
However, a source says it is common practice to raise more than intended, and release only the healthiest.
The Nechako River white Sturgeon is listed as an endangered species under Canada Species At Risk Act. The Nechako White Sturgeon Recovery Initiative was created to reverse the risk of extinction. That group, in conjunction with the community of Vanderhoof, corporate sponsors and the BC Government recently signed a ten-year deal to ensure between 10,000 and 12,000 sturgeon would be reared each year for the next ten years.