Scientific Name: Acipenser transmontanus
Taxonomy Group: Fishes
Range: British Columbia
Last COSEWIC Assessment: November 2012
Last COSEWIC Designation: Threatened
SARA Status: Schedule 3, No Status
- (SARA Schedule 1 provisions do not apply)
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, Lower 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.
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.
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 in a small area and number of locations in the lower Fraser River Valley. It has declined greatly in abundance over the last 100 years and, although adult abundances now appear to be stable or increasing slightly, habitat degradation continues and fish are subject to mortality from by-catch in commercial salmon fisheries as well as mortality associated with a growing catch-and-release recreational fishery.
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.