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

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

The Abbotsford International Airshow is back for 2021 with the ‘SkyDrive’ concept.
Abbotsford International Airshow returns for 2021 with ‘SkyDrive’

New format features a drive-in movie type experience, show set for Aug. 6 to 8

A young couple walks through the Othello Tunnels just outside of Hope. (Jessica Peters/Black Press)
Hope’s Othello Tunnels fully open to the public

Geological testing proved the area safe enough to open for the first time in more than a year

FILE
70 per cent of people aged 12 and older in Agassiz-Harrison have been vaccinated

More than 80 per cent of adults aged 50 and older have been vaccinated, as of June 10

Raeya Evie Duncan was the 100th baby born at Chilliwack General Hospital for the month of May. She is seen here with her parents Alysha Williams and Andrew Duncan on June 12, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Baby boom in Chilliwack as record number of infants born at CGH in May

‘COVID babies are coming out,’ says dad of 100th baby born at Chilliwack General Hospital last month

Agassiz Agricultural Hall hosts COVID-19 vaccination clinics every Wednesday. District officials reported more than 300 doses are administered per week. (Adam Louis/Observer)
Walk-in COVID vaccine clinic scheduled for Wednesday

Walk-in appointments available while supplies last from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Maxwell Johnson is seen in Bella Bella, B.C., in an undated photo. The Indigenous man from British Columbia has filed complaints with the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal and the Canadian Human Rights Commission after he and his granddaughter were handcuffed when they tried to open a bank account. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Heiltsuk Nation, Damien Gillis, *MANDATORY CREDIT*
VIDEO: Chiefs join human rights case of Indigenous man handcuffed by police in B.C. bank

Maxwell Johnson said he wants change, not just words, from Vancouver police

For more than a year, Rene Doyharcabal and a small group of neighbours in Langley’s Brookswood neighbourhood have been going out every evening to show support for first responders by honking horns and banging pots and drums. Now, a neighbour has filed a noise complaint. (Langley Advance Times file)
Noise complaint filed against nightly show of support for health care workers in B.C. city

Langley Township contacted group to advise of complaint, but no immediate action is expected

A nurse prepares a shot of the COVID-19 vaccine at the Yukon Convention Centre in Whitehorse on Wednesday, March 3, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Mike Thomas
Vancouver couple pleads guilty to breaking Yukon COVID rules, travelling for vaccine

Chief Judge Michael Cozens agreed with a joint sentencing submission,

An inmate in solitary confinement given lunch on Tuesday, May 10, 2016. THE CANADIAN/Lars Hagberg
22-hour cap on solitary confinement for youth in custody still too long: B.C. lawyer

Jennifer Metcalfe was horrified to hear a youth had spent a total of 78 straight days in isolation

People line up to get their COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre, Thursday, June 10, 2021 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Vaccines, low COVID case counts increase Father’s Day hope, but risk is still there

Expert says people will have to do their own risk calculus before popping in on Papa

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

B.C. Premier John Horgan listens as Finance Minister Selina Robinson presents the province’s latest budget, April 20, 2021. The budget projects $19 billion in deficits over three years. (Hansard TV)
B.C. government budget balloons, beyond COVID-19 response

Provincial payroll up 104,000 positions, $10 billion since 2017

COVID-related trash is washing up on shorelines across the world, including Coldstream’s Kal Beach, as pictured in this May 2021 photograph. (Jennifer Smith - Black Press)
Shoreline cleanup finds COVID-related trash increased during height of the pandemic

Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup reports litter from single-use food packaging nearly doubled

Most Read