Fraser River Sturgeon Tagging Program
With its history dating back thousands of years, the Fraser River White Sturgeon has survived since before the ice ages. This fish is literally a dinosaur.
In the early 1900’s, fishermen in the Vancouver area decimated the sturgeon population in the Fraser River – taking out hundreds of thousands of pounds of fish in a very short time. Because of the long life cycle, the sturgeon numbers didn’t recover. The white sturgeon can live to be over 150 years old, so it’s possible these post early 1900 fish are still growing.
We are still feeling the effects of 100 years ago, especially in the larger sized fish.
The Fraser River Sturgeon Society works with various levels of Government / Fisheries, Sport Fishing, Recreational fisherman, and First Nations. Using research collected and through consultation with the various interested groups, the society makes recommendations that they believe will result in a healthy Sturgeon population in the Fraser River.
The Fraser River Sturgeon tagging program was initiated in 1999 by the Fraser River Sturgeon Society, in an effort to monitor and make recommendations to maintain the habitat and restore the sturgeon population. The society is run by essentially all volunteers, and fundraises to carry out studies to monitor the sturgeon populations.
Data collected includes date, time, location, girth (circumference of head), length (nose to fork of tail) and ID code if caught before.
If a sturgeon has not been caught, a small tag is inserted at the base of the head so that if the fish is caught again, the researchers can determine growth rates, migration patterns, recapture rates, etc.
Since this time approximately 158,000 sturgeon have been caught – 74% being recaptures. 68,000 white sturgeon have been tagged during this time. There is no other tagging program of this magnitude in the world. Tagging is done by volunteers, about 60 in total, with 35 being professional fishing guides.
Sturgeon Fishing guide, Yves Bisson, has been a huge part of the tagging program since 2004. Nobody in has recorded more fish than Yves, with over 14,800 White Sturgeon. In 2016, Yves Bisson was given the Fraser River Sturgeon Conservation Society’s Volunteer Of The Year Award, for his tagging commitment and other involvement within the society.
You can find more information on the Fraser River Sturgeon Society website.