A Facebook post made Oct. 25 shows fisherman in the lower Fraser Valley manhandling a threatened white sturgeon. Submitted

Facebook post shows mishandling of threatened white sturgeon

Photoshoot puts life of sturgeon at risk

Facebook pictures posted Oct. 25 show a group of fishermen mishandling a white sturgeon caught in the lower Fraser River.

The group appears to have used a large net to catch the threatened fish and hold it up gleefully for multiple photos. The apparent manhandling of the sturgeon is in direct defiance of B.C.’s “guidelines for angling white sturgeon,” which in reference to handling the prehistoric giant, states: “Never squeeze or hug sturgeon. Keep your fingers away from the gills and out of the gill plates.”

The photo shoot defies the government’s directions to “always leave the sturgeon in the water” and to “have your camera ready and be quick” if you want a photo.

Sarah Schreier, executive director at Fraser River Sturgeon Conservation Society, says the photos show clear mishandling.

“They’re hugging that fish to their bodies. If you look at the protocols, that’s one of the key things: Never hug a fish to your body, keep them supported,” she says, adding the unique physiology of the sturgeon puts it at increased risk of harm.

“Sturgeon are an apex species, and very long-lived but also, they’re cartilage fish. So their physiology is very different than a salmon or a trout,” she explains. “If they’re overly bent, that can cause concern around potential injuries to their spine and other parts.”

B.C. guidelines state never to lift a large sturgeon out of the water because it can suffocate, and adds that “large sturgeon are at risk of internal injuries due to their own weight.”

Schreier says the photos misrepresent how the fish should be handled. “It does a disservice to people who do handle them properly,” she adds.

Most white sturgeon populations in B.C. are protected under the federal Species at Risk Act, limiting fishing activities to catch and release only. Classified as threatened, recovery plans to prevent further loss of and preserve the remaining gene pool include the handling guidelines to leave the fish in water at all times.

“This is a hardy species, they’ve outlived two ice ages, they’re dinosaurs!” Schreier says. “They have an unbelievable ability to adapt…That’s extraordinary but we can’t take that for granted.”

Representatives from the Lower Fraser Fishing Alliance could not be reached for comment.

The fate of the white sturgeon pictured is unknown.

Just Posted

Fundraiser for teenager hit by car in Rosedale

Teen suffering multiple fractures and blood clots following incident on Yale Road

Vedder River cleanup nets bag of discarded sex toys

Chilliwack volunteers stumble on unexpected find while removing 600 lbs of trash from riverway

Hikers alert after woman approached by suspicious man in Harrison Mills

The woman and her family were hiking in the wetlands between Rowena’s Inn and Sts’ailes First Nation

Chilliwack International Spring Film Series returns to Cottonwood 4 Cinemas

Put a spring in your step with the Chilliwack International Spring Film Series’ feature titles

EDITORIAL: No think-tank report cards for the Observer

Fraser Institute’s annual school ranking isn’t a good measure of success, editor Grace Kennedy writes

Film crews descend on Agassiz for ‘Republic of Sarah’

Pioneer Avenue will be closed to traffic Monday and Tuesday

UPDATED: Three dead in Surrey crash: police

Single-vehicle crash occurred around 10:30 a.m., police remain on-scene

Eviction halted for B.C. woman deemed ‘too young’ for seniors’ home

Zoe Nagler, 46, had been given notice after living in the seniors complex in Comox for six years

Is it a homicide? B.C. woman dies in hospital, seven months after being shot

Stepfather think Chilliwack case should now be a homicide, but IHIT has not confirmed anything

Coroner’s inquest announced for Victoria teen’s overdose death

Elliot Eurchuk was 16 years old when he died of an opioid overdose at his Oak Bay home

Military officer accused of sexual misconduct, drunkenness in B.C., Alberta

Warrant Officer Jarvis Kevin Malone is charged under the National Defence Act

Stranger climbs onto B.C. family’s second-floor balcony, lights fire in barbecue

Incident in Abbotsford terrifies family with two-year-old boy

Harbour Air to convert to all-electric seaplanes

Seaplane company to modify fleet with a 750-horsepower electric motor

VIDEO: Teenage girl was person killed in three-vehicle crash in Coquitlam

Police are investigating the fatal crash at Mariner Way and Riverview Crescent

Most Read