Grand Opening of the Nechako White Sturgeon Conservation Facility
Decades of persistence, dedication, and determination came to fruition with the celebration of the Grand Opening of the Nechako White Sturgeon Conservation Centre on the 17th June, 2014. The event was hosted by the Freshwater Fisheries Society of BC with the District of Vanderhoof and the Nechako White Sturgeon Recovery Initiative playing major roles. Approximately 450 people came to help celebrate this monumental day. The event was opened by the Saik’uz First Nation dancers.
Saik'uz First Nation Dancers opening up the Grand Event.
After the dances, speeches were provided by the Honourable Steve Thomson, Minster of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations; River Conservationist, Mark Angelo; DOV Mayor Gerry Thiessen; Cora MacIntosh of Saik’uz First Nations and MLA John Rustad.
The NWSRI CWG hosted display booths on sturgeon biology, how to track sturgeon, the emergency sturgeon live release boat kit program and the grades 4-7 school program.
The NWSRI Tent contained information on TWG research projects and CWG outreach and harm reduction projects with our focus on sturgeon conservation.
Participants could also test how they measure up to a Nechako White Sturgeon.
The Sturgeon Biology, tagging and tracking tent displayed posters on sturgeon anatomy and biology. We also had a display of egg to juvenile sturgeon life stages and a tank containing sturgeon foods gathered from the Murray Creek area.
The Emergency Sturgeon Release Boat Kit Program tent displayed an example boat kit for viewing as well as a gill net. There was also a sign-up sheet for future participants and copies of the video that explains the boat kit program in detail.
The Grades 4 through 7 Curriculum School Program table promoted the use of the program in schools. We also had one of the life-size sturgeon stuffies, that is available for schools to sign-out, on display for the kids to see.
The Kids’ Activities Center was run by a long-time sturgeon volunteer, Annerose Georgeson of CNC, and the Arts Council. They hosted a number of fun and innovated kid’s activities including a large sturgeon for kids to paint.
Guided tours of the conservation facility were provided and participants could view the production of the first hatchery produced Nechako White Sturgeon larvae and incubation. There were also two large sturgeon that remained in the hatchery tanks.
Mike Manky of the NWS Conservation Facility providing a guided tour and explaining the process of producing hatchery raised sturgeon.
Nechako White Sturgeon larvae hide in the bio-balls (blue structures).
Two adult Nechako White sturgeon were on-site and participants were able to view them!
Participants were also treated to lunch with dessert being a 6 foot sturgeon cake made by Woody’s Bakery.
The Nechako white sturgeon conservation facility was decades in the making and the success are in part due to the dedication of CWG and TWG members. The Nechako White Sturgeon Conservation Centre will produce, raise and release up to 12,000 juvenile sturgeon each year back into the Nechako River. Our hope is that these fish will be past the stage of recruitment failure identified by our Technical Working Group and therefore a greater number will survive to breeding age. The NWSRI continues to recognize that the facility is not a permanent solution for sturgeon recovery, however, it will aid in providing more time for the Technical Working Group to continue to research, implement, and monitor the more permanent solutions required to achieve a self-sustaining sturgeon population.
The NWSRI extends our sincere appreciation to all of the volunteers that helped make Grand Opening a fun and educational experience! We would also like to thank all of the participants for celebrating this momentous day with us.
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