For over 200 million years, sturgeon have been swimming the waters of the world. They outlived the dinosaurs, yet in less than one sturgeon’s lifetime, humans have brought this prehistoric fish to the brink of extinction. Almost all species and populations worldwide are in trouble.
Vancouver Island University (VIU) in Nanaimo, British Columbia, has been working with the white sturgeon since 1984 conducting field and laboratory research projects as well as teaching students and the general public about these amazing fish. To continue developing sturgeon research, VIU has reached a stage that requires an expansion of its facilities. The World Sturgeon Conservation Society has also identified the need for a dedicated sturgeon research centre in North America. To fill these needs, VIU has constructed the International Centre for Sturgeon Studies (ICSS) on campus.
Integrated Research is Imperative
The conservation of these important fish will require an integrated and collaborative research approach through field and laboratory studies. The ICSS will bring together research activities at the regional, national and international levels involving conservation, enhancement and commercial interests. It will provide facilities for controlled research projects and be a base for field research programs. The ICSS will become a place where institutions, government, First Nations, industry and non-governmental organizations can consolidate their activities and learn from each other, to help understand and aid the sturgeon populations of this country and the world. To that end, a research team has been assembled that includes world-class and emerging new scientists from across Canada, the United States and internationally (Russia, Germany, Iran, France and Italy). Their research will aid in conserving and restoring endangered sturgeon populations worldwide.
In addition to a research facility, the ICSS will be a place where students and the general public can go to learn about and appreciate these unique “living fossils”. At present, VIU hosts over 1000 visitors a year to their hatcheries.