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Tagging for population Assessment

Lake and Split Lake for the past five years (1992-97). The field program collects biological and harvest data that the Board uses to assess the status of the sturgeon population, which they then consider when making recommendations to domestic fishermen.

The Sturgeon stock in this portion of the Nelson River was subject to an intensive commercial fishery early in the century, which severely depleted stocks. The fishery opened and closed several times as stocks recovered somewhat and were then further depleted. The last period of commercial fishing was stained for twice as long as any previous fishery, but was exploiting a relatively small remnant stock. There are some signs that stock was finally starting to deplete again as the commercial fishery was closed in 1992. Concerns also arose about the sustainability of the domestic harvest, which is shared by several Nelson River communities and first nations, resulted in the creation of the Nelson River Sturgeon Co-Management Board.

Population estimates for the most intensively harvested
portion of the sturgeon stock show a steady decline over
the five-year study period. Efforts to reduce harvest have
become increasingly effective over the past five years,
however the stock has declined markedly over this period.
The stock now appears to be in need of rehabilitation
before it will be able to meet even the most rudimentary
needs of the local communities.

The long time frame required for sturgeon to grow to
maturity and catch able size means that impacts on early
life history stages can take approximately twenty years to
appear. It is still to early to be able to detect some of these impacts, which should only be appearing in the adult population now. These impacts may or may not prove significant, however if they are significant they will add to the problem faced by the already depleted stocks.

The program is providing information of value for the management of the fish stock. Recommendations are provided, although it is also noted that there is little time remaining to implement these recommendations with any hope of success.

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