An application to the federal government to help towards the building of a sturgeon conservation facility in Vanderhoof has yet to be picked up.
The application was made late last year by the District of Vanderhoof to the Western Economic Diversification Fund (WED) for approximately $700,000.
However WED has recently announced that it is giving Vancouver Island University’s new International Centre for Sturgeon Studies $717,700 towards various equipment to make the facility fully operational.
The centre’s ultimate goal is to help the coastal aquaculture industry grow sturgeon for food in freshwater containers.
Brian Frenkel, Chair of the Nechako White Sturgeon Recovery Initiative (NWSRI) Community Working Group says he is disappointed with the decision.
“From my point of view it’s disappointing to see money being awarded for another sturgeon facility whose main goal is for food fishery and we’re trying to save the species … it’s really disappointing,” said Frenkel.
“The federal government has done a great job creating a species at risk act but they have not followed it up with funding to help save those species … that’s the way I feel – I just don’t see it anywhere and this is an example of that – it’s a blow,” he added.
Frenkel says the survival of the endangered Nechako white sturgeon is still reliant on provincial and federal funding for the building of a permanent conservation facility in Vanderhoof which is estimated will cost approximately $3 million to build.
“Ultimately … the federal and provincial government need to make a decision as soon as possible,” said Frenkel about the need for funding. The economic downturn has meant many ministries have had their budgets cut making funding problematic.
Don Peterson, President of the Freshwater Fisheries Society of BC confirmed last year that $1.5 million in funding had been set aside for the conservation facility in Vanderhoof by the Ministry of Environment.
Frenkel says there is still some time to come up with other funding solutions for the conservation facility.
“Did the community get knocked down a bit here this summer? Sure we did – but you know you get back up and you try and find an alternative method of trying to get things funded and that is the resiliency of this community – we will always get back up on our feet and find another way,” said Frenkel.
The number of mature sturgeon of breeding age is currently estimated to be less than 350. Nechako white sturgeon are federally listed as Endangered under Schedule One of the Species at Risk Act due to ongoing recruitment failure, which has led to a extremely low number of juveniles.