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Blackburn paper suggests more science based data is needed about White Sturgeon population

Photo: by cambocady on Instagram, July 2022. Fisherman Andrew Phon landed a 94-inch sturgeon on the Sacramento River in Sacramento.

Population Dynamics and Evaluation of Management Scenarios for White Sturgeon in the Sacramento–San Joaquin River Basin.

North American Journal of Fisheries Management 39:896–912, 2019 © 2019 American Fisheries Society. click here

Recent surveys suggest a declining population of White Sturgeon Acipenser transmontanus in the Sacramento–San Joaquin River basin (SSJ), California.

Probable reasons for the decline include overharvest and habitat degradation compounded by poor recruitment during recent droughts. Despite the importance and status of White Sturgeon, knowledge of their population dynamics in the SSJ remains incomplete and additional information is needed to further inform management decisions.

The purpose of this study was to evaluate the population dynamics of White Sturgeon in the SSJ and use the information to estimate the population-level response under plausible management scenarios.

White Sturgeon in the SSJ exhibited fast growth and high rates of mortality and experienced relatively high levels of exploitation. Under current conditions, the population will likely continue to decrease (population growth rate λ = 0.97); however, there was considerable uncertainty in estimates of future population growth. Population growth of White Sturgeon in the SSJ was most influenced by the survival of sexually mature adults.

The models also suggested that White Sturgeon in the SSJ could reach the replacement rate (i.e., λ ≥ 1.00) if total annual mortality for age-3 and older fish does not exceed 6%. Low levels of exploitation (i.e., <3%) would likely be required to maintain a stable population.

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