According to the Fraser River Sturgeon Conservation Society, the Lower Fraser River in British Columbia boasts the only wild white sturgeon in the world which may be threatened by gravel excavation.
Gravel excavation is taking place near Agassiz, near one of only two spawning areas on the Lower Fraser River in British Colombia. Anglers are concerned that the mining will damage the sensitive fish habitat.
Seabird Island Band, in partnership with Jakes Construction, is excavating 105,000 cubic meters of gravel from a site called Seabird Bar B on reserve lands.
A representative for B.C. Forests, Lands and Natural Resources said that the mining area is not a confirmed location for sturgeon spawning. The statement disturbs anglers because in 2014 they voluntarily agreed to not fish the area during spawning season.
Karl English, a fisheries biologist with the Conservation Society, said that when the sturgeon come to spawn, they may find parts of the habitat destroyed.
“This location is important as it is a fairly stable area. Just upstream are where the sturgeon are releasing their eggs,” said English. “The eggs drift downstream and then sink and attach to the rocks. They hatch, and the sturgeon have to get into these spaces between the gravel which have protection from predators. Now (juvenile sturgeon) will get gobbled up by predators.”
According to the Seabird Island Band, erosion protection was the main reason for the excavation, along with economic benefits.
The white sturgeon attract people from around the world to the area to view the fish and take part in catch-and-release fishing.