Okay, so this isn’t really Sturgeonville; it’s Nanaimo. But for the duration of this week, this city is the epicentre of everything sturgeon. Since Monday, I have been attending presentations on a variety of topics – from sturgeon population management to sturgeon aquaculture – at the 7th International Symposium on Sturgeon.

With over 300 participants from more than 30 countries around the world, this is a truly international symposium. It’s been great to hear different accents in the conference halls (Japanese, Czech, French, etc.), knowing that everyone is here to share their research and learn about these giant fish.

There are dozens of sturgeon species found all over the northern hemisphere. The statuses of these species depend on where in the world they are found, and furthermore, which subpopulation they belong to. For example, the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) Red List of Threatened Species lists the Upper Fraser River white sturgeon (Acipenser transmontanus) subpopulation as Endangered, while it lists the Fraser regional white sturgeon subpopulation as Vulnerable. The Russian sturgeon (Acipenser gueldenstaedtii), meanwhile, is listed as Critically Endangered.

There aren’t any easy answers on how these trends should be reversed, but I think the conference participants would agree that getting together and talking about doing something is a good start.

Blog post written by Karen Horak, a writer-editor at the Vancouver Aquarium. She is in Nanaimo to cover the 7th International Symposium on Sturgeon. Titled “Sturgeon, Science and Society – at the Crossroads: Meeting the Challenges of the 21st Century,” this conference, hosted by the World Sturgeon Conservation Society, is held every four years in cities around the world. Look for her blog posts, Facebook posts and Tweets this week.

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