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

Hope firefighter receives commendation for 50 years of service

Fred Robinson began his career on Vancouver Island, still working hard

Harrison Festival releases line-up for fall season

The 31st annual Season of Performing Arts will be kicking off Oct. 18

Man charged with stealing Chief Dan George sculpture from Abbotsford school

Piece turned up in Mission pawn shop after Chilliwack artist noticed it missing this summer

New real-time location technology coming soon to Fraser Valley buses

Waiting riders will be able to see location of their bus using their phones

Supernatural fundraiser coming to Kilby this October

The Vancouver Supernatural Group will be investigating paranormal activity at the historic site

VIDEO: Agassiz Fall Fair celebrates 115 years of fair fun

From 4H shows to pie eating contests, the annual fair brought its best to the community this year

Canucks sign Brock Boeser to three-year, US$17.6-million deal

Young sniper will be in Vancouver Tuesday

B.C. forest industry looks to a high-technology future

Restructuring similar to Europe 15 years ago, executive says

RCMP conclude investigation into 2017 Elephant Hill wildfire

Files have been turned over to BC Prosecution Service

B.C. wants to be part of global resolution in opioid company bankruptcy claim

Government says settlement must include Canadian claims for devastation created by overdose crisis

Guilty plea in Lower Mainland break-and-enter spree

Gordon Vincent Gladstone, 42, was charged with 12 counts relating to a dozen incidents in late 2018

Vancouver police officer hit with bear spray mid-arrest

Officer had been trying to arrest a woman wanted province-wide

B.C. ends ‘birth alerts’ in child welfare cases

‘Social service workers will no longer share information about expectant parents without consent’

Chilliwack’s Belle Voci brings three-day a cappella festival to Fraser Valley

Singers will learn from two of Lower Mainland’s best music leaders at Belle Voci A Cappella Festival

Most Read