In a conservation effort, over 600 students released chinook salmon fry and 2-year-old sturgeon into the Nechako River on Friday (June 3). This project is spearheaded by the Nechako White Sturgeon Recovery Initiative, Freshwater Fisheries Society of BC and School District 91.
The Nechako White Sturgeon are classified as endangered under the Federal Species at Risk Act (SARA). A survivor from before the time of the dinosaurs and a species relatively unchanged for 175 million years, the Nechako White Sturgeon has come to the brink of extinction over the past 50 years.
The annual sturgeon release is a way to boost the population of the pre-historic fish while providing an educational opportunity for students across the school district.
This year for the first time Spruce City Wildlife Association was invited to release 1,000 chinook salmon fry into the Nechako River from Vanderhoof to increase salmon stocks as well. And the sturgeon released were 2-years-old with a body of a 5-year-old so as to help with issues of predation.
There were multiple educational stations during the event from understanding predation, studying salmon and sturgeon.
Michelle Roberge, coordinator for the Nechako White Sturgeon Recovery Initiative said she loved seeing the day come together.
“Nechako White Sturgeon are an endangered population within our river and to be a good citizen of the community and the river, it is really important to understand not just about the fish itself but how the whole watershed works.”
Roberge talked about how unique the Nechako River system is as it’s a controlled river, with endangered species in it. “It’s just a really unique and good opportunity for appreciating that. It’s great to have kids learning about it.”
There were wildfire firefighters volunteering during the day and one of them had participated in the release when he was younger.
“Hopefully this [event] leads to more engaged citizens who appreciate where we are, the uniqueness and then take care of it,” Roberge added.
Wayne Salewski, chair of the Nechako White Sturgeon Recovery Initiative working group said this event is a big opportunity for kids. He said he has heard many students talk about wanting to be fisheries biologists and environmental scientists.
“Our economy will grow with this green effect. We know that.”