Why Catch & Release of Great White Sturgeon is so Important

February 28th, 2023 | in Sturgeon Conservation
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Fishermen come from all over the world to fish the Fraser River for the largest freshwater sportfish in the world, the mighty Great White Sturgeon.

Massive sturgeon have always been found in the lower Fraser River, one of Canada's largest rivers, which flows through Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Since the early 1900's these fish were harvest for meat and roe (for the best caviar). At that time, little was known about the sturgeon lifecycle. There were lots of fish around and nobody really cared.

Over time, the white sturgeon population in the Fraser River started decreasing. People became more aware of the possible extinction of this magnificent fish.

As of 1994, Fraser River Sturgeon became exclusively a catch and release industry. First Nations also voluntarily agreed to stop their harvest. Government & Community groups began studying the sturgeon, the sturgeon life cycle, and ways to preserve the species. The White Sturgeon is subject of the largest tagging program for any animal species ever done - where in the last 20 years, approximately100,000 fish have been tagged, studied, and reported.

In the past 25 years or so, the White Sturgeon population in the Fraser River seem to be recovering, although there is some discussion about populations within specific age ranges.

Sturgeon Life Cycle

The Female White Sturgeon generally mature between 15 and 35 years old (about 120 to 180cm length), and only spawn every 2 to 7 years. Most other fish spawn within 5 years. Spawning takes place late spring / early summer, in gravel beds. While 300,000 to 400,000 eggs are laid, as is the case with other fish, few make it to adulthood.

Adult Sturgeon can reach as much as 100 years of age. Older sturgeon can produce more eggs. So an older population is best for preservation of the species.

Why Releasing Sturgeon is Vital

Removing juvenile sturgeon from the river is harmful in that they never have a chance to reproduce. Removing large sturgeon is harmful in that the population is losing a great reproductive asset.

Because of the slow reproductive rates, the White Sturgeon population is more affected by overfishing and environmental influences. Conservation efforts need to be kept in place long term to ensure the survival of this fantastic prehistoric fish. While there are farmed sturgeon, we don't seethe Lower Fraser River White Sturgeon ever becoming a harvestable fish.

About Yves Bisson Sturgeon Co

Yves Bisson Sturgeon Co is extremely committed to sturgeon conservation. Yves has advised many regulatory bodies about procedures, equipment and has made other recommendations which have been adopted into law or code of ethics among other Fraser River fishing guides.

Yves Bisson Sturgeon Co has recorded or tagged more than 20,000 White Sturgeon over the last 20 years. The information gathered has been critical in determining how best to preserve the population in the Lower Fraser River. Yves believes that (when done right) catch and release of White Sturgeon is a sustainable industry and the data gathered enables researches to learn more about this magnificent fish.

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