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Sturgeon anglers despair over mining of Fraser River

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 "The province is completely aware of the evidence," he said. "Their biologists have been involved in some of the sturgeon spawning assessment work there."

He said the province was involved in 2010 and 2011 in research that identified the Seabird Bar B area as important sturgeon spawning habitat. 

What's more, recent research suggests that the sturgeon are a population in steady decline, not unlike the Atlantic cod on the east coast.  

Graph of Lower Fraser juvenile sturgeon provided by Fraser River Sturgeon Conservation Society 

"It’s hugely frustrating when you go through all this effort and provide information on this well in advance and they ignore it," said English, whose group presented scientific evidence to the province prior to the project approval.

Nootebos thinks the project, which scientists fear will set a precedent for more gravel mining in the sensitive habitat, will threaten a $12 million-a-year sport fishing industry.

"It'll risk the industry, there's no question about it," he said. "I don't know how much [money] the gravel mining would bring but it's nowhere near that, year over year. We know sport fishing provides a lot of new dollars to the province, not recycled dollars. And it's in a sustainable way."  

McKinley expressed frustration not over "poor management" of the Fraser River by authorities, not only regarding gravel mining in a sturgeon spawning habitat, but also for projects such as a toxic waste recycling plant, which has been approved by Chilliwack and is now under provincial review. 

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Fraser River

Gravel mining of The Fraser River is a window into how British Columbia's government makes decisions about complex environmental issues.  This Special Report investigates money, power, politics...
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