Schedule 3 - No Status
White Sturgeon Upper Fraser River population
Scientific Name: Acipenser transmontanus
Taxonomy Group: Fishes
COSEWIC Range: British Columbia
COSEWIC Assessment Date and Status Change: November 2012
COSEWIC Status: Endangered
COSEWIC Status Criteria: C1
COSEWIC Reason for Designation: This large-bodied fish occurs at a small number of locations in the upper Fraser River. The species has declined considerably over the last century (to about 1,300 adults) and will likely continue to decline owing to localized habitat degradation and recruitment failure.
COSEWIC History of Status Designation: The species was considered a single unit and designated Special Concern in April 1990. Status re-examined and designated Endangered in November 2003. Split into four populations in November 2012. The Upper Fraser River population was designated Endangered in November 2012.
SARA Status: Schedule 3, No Status
- (SARA Schedule 1 provisions do not apply)
Date of Listing (yyyy-mm-dd):
Please note that this information is provided for general information purposes only. For the most up to date and accurate list of species listed under the Species at Risk Act, please see the Justice Laws Website.
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National Recovery Program |
Species that have been designated at risk by COSEWIC since the Species at Risk Act (SARA) was written must be added to Schedule 1 through a regulatory amendment.
Information on this procedure is available in the Assessment section. If White Sturgeon, Upper Fraser River population, is added to Schedule 1, it will benefit from the protections afforded by SARA.
More information about SARA, including how it protects individual species, is available in the Species at Risk Act: A Guide.
Provincial and Territorial Protection
To know if this species is protected by provincial or territorial laws, consult the provinces' and territories' websites.
PLEASE NOTE: Not all COSEWIC reports are currently available on the SARA Public Registry. Most of the reports not yet available are status reports for species assessed by COSEWIC prior to May 2002. Other COSEWIC reports not yet available may include those species assessed as Extinct, Data Deficient or Not at Risk. In the meantime, they are available on request from the COSEWIC Secretariat.
9 record(s) found.
COSEWIC Status Reports
Sturgeons are part of an ancient lineage of ray-finned fishes. Most of their internal skeleton (including the skull) is composed of cartilage; however, there are superficial bones on the surface of the head and several distinct rows of diamond-shaped bony projections (scutes) on the body. Sturgeons have conspicuous barbels on their snouts. Two species occur along the Pacific Coast of Canada: the Green Sturgeon, Acipenser medirostris, and the White Sturgeon, Acipenser transmontanus. They are distinguished by colour: the lower flanks are greenish in the Green Sturgeon and dark grey shading into white in the White Sturgeon. Usually there is a dark stripe along the ventral midline of the Green Sturgeon, whereas the ventral surface of the White Sturgeon is white. Although the White Sturgeon is primarily a freshwater species, some individuals enter the sea. In contrast, in Canada, the Green Sturgeon is primarily a marine fish but occasionally occurs in estuaries and the tidal areas of large rivers. The White Sturgeon is the largest freshwater fish in Canada, and is the focus of an important recreational fishery in the Lower Fraser River, British Columbia (BC).
This large-bodied fish occurs at a small number of locations in the upper Fraser River. The species has declined considerably over the last century (to about 1,300 adults) and will likely continue to decline owing to localized habitat degradation and recruitment failure.
COSEWIC Annual Reports
Under Canada’s Species at Risk Act (SARA), the foremost function of COSEWIC is to “assess the status of each wildlife species considered by COSEWIC to be at risk and, as part of the assessment, identify existing and potential threats to the species”.
COSEWIC held two Wildlife Species Assessment Meetings in this reporting year (October, 2012 to September 2013) from November 25 to November 30, 2012 and from April 28 to May 3, 2013. During the current reporting period, COSEWIC assessed the status or reviewed the classification of 73 wildlife species.
The wildlife species assessment results for the 2012-2013 reporting period include the following:
Special Concern: 19
Data Deficient: 4
Not at Risk: 1
Of the 73 wildlife species examined, COSEWIC reviewed the classification of 50 species that had been previously assessed. The review of classification for 26 of those species resulted in a confirmation of the same status as the previous assessment.
Permits and Related Agreements
Lheidli T'enneh First Nation will capture and sample adult White Sturgeon for biological and life history information, PIT tag, fin clip, fin sample, radio tag, and replace older radio tags in order to identify and refine the potential critical habitats of the Upper Fraser White Sturgeon population. The activity forms the basis of data acquisition necessary to monitor the species, identify important habitat, and monitor status of stocking objectives.
a) Capture, using setlines and angling, up to 40 mature White Sturgeon annually. Implant annually up to 20 adult White Sturgeon with radio or acoustic transmitters to track their movements and behaviour. All White Sturgeon captured will be assessed (length, weight, health) and scanned for PIT tags. Previously uncaptured fish will be PIT tagged, fin clipped, and up to 20 fish annually will have pectoral fin ray section removed for ageing and microchemistry analysis;
b) Capture, using setlines and angling, juvenile and sub-adult (? 1.5 m length) White Sturgeon. Implant annually up to 10 juvenile White Sturgeon (50-100cm fork length) with radio or acoustic transmitters to track their movements and behaviour. All White Sturgeon captured will be assessed (length, weight, health) and scanned for PIT tags. Previously uncaptured fish will be PIT tagged, fin clipped, and up to 40 fish annually will have pectoral fin ray section removed for ageing and microchemistry analysis;
c) Capture, using passive egg mat sampling, wild White Sturgeon eggs annually. Collect up to 50 wild eggs annually for genetic analysis. Any additional wild eggs captured will be returned to the detection location.
Authorized representatives of Lheidli T'enneh First Nation will sample, radio tag, and replace old radio tags in order to identify and refine the potential critical habitats of the Upper Fraser White Sturgeon population. The ultimate goal of the activities is to assist in the recovery of this species by collecting data and monitoring the stock's overall status.
Authorized representatives of the BC Ministry of Environment will transport up to 10,000 White Sturgeon eggs and larvae in order to study and conduct research on the larval life stages of the species. The ultimate goal of the activities is to assist in the recovery of this species by increasing our understanding of recruitment failure, restoration, and factors endangering the species.
Information summary and survey for the consultations on potentially adding the White Sturgeon (Upper Fraser River designatable unit) to the List of Wildlife Species at Risk as endangered – Please provide input by July 9, 2019.
Critical Habitat Orders
Under SARA, critical habitat identified in the recovery strategy must be protected within 180 days after the posting of the final recovery strategy on the SAR Public Registry. Critical habitat not mentioned in subsection 58(2) must be protected either by the application of the prohibition against the destruction of critical habitat in subsection 58(1), or by provisions in, or measures under, SARA or any other Act of Parliament, including agreements under section 11 of SARA. It is important to note that in order for another federal law to be used to legally protect critical habitat, it must provide an equivalent level of legal protection of critical habitat, as would be afforded through subsection 58(1) of SARA, failing which, the Minister must make an order under subsection 58(4) and (5) of SARA. Therefore, the four Orders for the protection of critical habitat of the White Sturgeon — the Critical Habitat of the White Sturgeon (Acipenser transmontanus) Upper Fraser River Population Order, the Critical Habitat of the White Sturgeon (Acipenser transmontanus) Nechako River Population Order, the Critical Habitat of the White Sturgeon (Acipenser transmontanus) Upper Columbia River Population Order and the Critical Habitat of the White Sturgeon (Acipenser transmontanus) Kootenay River Population Order — are intended to satisfy the obligation to legally protect critical habitat by triggering the prohibition under SARA against the destruction of any part of the species’ critical habitat.