Carrier Sekani Tribal Council, the Carrier Sekani First Nations, BC (FLNRO) and Canada (DFO) have reached an agreement for the 2017 Release Strategy for the Endangered Nechako White Sturgeon
Dakelh Territory, Prince George: The Carrier Sekani Tribal Council (CSTC) is pleased that after careful consideration, the CSTC, Carrier Sekani First Nations (CSFNs), the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations (FLNRO) and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (CDFO) were able to reach agreement on a mutually acceptable alternative to culling thousands of Nechako White Sturgeon, which have been bred and raised as part of a recovery initiative at the Nechako White Sturgeon Conservation Centre in Vanderhoof. All 12,000 fish will be released within days, as initially intended, into the Nechako River.
The parties agreed that this option may increase the potential for future genetic and over-population risks, but that they would monitor the issue and adaptively manage those risks, if and when they may arise.
The CSTC, CSFNs, FLNRO, and DFO have been engaged in a discussion of options over the last month to avoid the cull, which was considered highly culturally inappropriate from the Carrier-Sekani perspective.
Tribal Chief Terry Teegee stated that: “We’re hopeful we can find a way to work together within our government-to-government relationship to agree upon an annual rearing and release plan, and contingencies, which are needed to ensure we avoid this situation in future years.”
Nechako River White Sturgeon is listed as an endangered species under Canada’s Species at Risk Act. Following the impoundment, diversion and regulation of the Nechako River, this species has suffered a “recruitment failure” (an insufficient number of juveniles survive to maturity to propagate and sustain the population). The population has declined to the point where extinction is inevitable without human intervention. A multi-party Nechako White Sturgeon Recovery Initiative (NWSRI) has worked for several decades in an effort to reverse the declining population trend and save the species.