Lake Sturgeon – Threats
• The lake sturgeon is listed as endangered by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC)
• Considered a “living fossil”, the lake sturgeon is part of a family of fish that has existed for over 150 million years.
• At first, the lake sturgeon was considered by-catch and a nuisance fish because they damaged fishing nets and gear. Lake sturgeon were used as fertilizer, pig feed, cordwood and lamp oil.
• Large-scale commercial sturgeon fishing began in Manitoba on Lake Winnipeg when the railway linked Manitoba with eastern markets in 1887. By 1896 production reached 80,000 kg, and in 1900 it peaked at almost 450,000 kg. With these levels of harvest, the sturgeon population was depleted rapidly and the Lake Winnipeg fishery was closed in 1910 after production dropped dramatically to only 13,600 kg. The Lake Winnipeg sturgeon population never recovered from this early exploitation that removed a total 2,808,865 kg of sturgeon.
• Hydro-electric development has turned Lake Winnipeg (#11 largest freshwater lake in the world) into a reservoir. High water levels cause flooding and erosion. There are 6 Hydro stations along the Nelson River that have resulted in habitat loss and fragmentation.