UofM hosts successful Manitoba Lake Sturgeon Science workshop

Event hosted by the Department of Biological Sciences and Manitoba Hydro highlights importance of conservation and partnership to a diverse group of stakeholders

When it comes to a fish story, the bigger the better, and there’s likely no bigger fish in Manitoba than the iconic Lake Sturgeon. So it was that on December 14th, 2018, conservation of this culturally iconic yet at-risk species was the main topic of discussion at the Manitoba Lake Sturgeon Science Workshop.

Held on the UofM’s Fort Garry Campus, the event (co-organized by Biological Sciences’ Dr. Gary Anderson and Manitoba Hydro) drew more than 100 representatives from over 30 different organizations, including provincial and federal bodies, First Nations and industry for a variety of presentations, sharing of knowledge, and discussion of best practices.

“Lake Sturgeon are an important species to a diverse group of stakeholders,” said organizer and Manitoba Hydro representative Stephanie Backhouse who completed her Master’s degree at the University of Manitoba.

“In recognition of that, one of the goals of this workshop was to attract participation that reflected that diversity, with the theme of ‘Partnerships in Lake Sturgeon Science and Conservation’. Lake Sturgeon can live well over 100 years, and when working with a species that has a lifespan longer than any of ours, I think a partnership approach is the best way for us to move forward in ensuring that healthy Lake Sturgeon populations persist for future generations.”

Anderson is the NSERC/Manitoba Hydro Associate Industrial Research Chair in Conservation Aquaculture of Lake Sturgeon. He’s been working with Manitoba Hydro for over a decade researching Lake Sturgeon biology. His research has focused on improving current methods of artificial rearing in order to ensure fish released into the wild survive and thrive and continue to spawn future generations. Anderson’s research program is also developing tools which will improve monitoring and management of existing stocks of wild Lake Sturgeon.

During the lunch break, research conducted by students in Anderson’s research program and others was on display at a poster session. Graduate and undergraduate students alike were thrilled to have the opportunity to participate.

“Knowing that our science and research is being listened to by the people affecting policy and decisions is really rewarding”, remarked graduate student Alison Loeppky. “It’s very meaningful to feel as though you are contributing to and part of a process that will influence future decision making.”

Alison Loeppky, Graduate student in Dr. Gary Anderson’s research program.
2018 Manitoba Lake Sturgeon Science Workshop.

Anderson’s research will facilitate environmental licensing of Manitoba Hydro generating stations by contributing to the knowledge needed to assess environmental impacts and develop mitigation measures for Lake Sturgeon.