Dead Sturgeon Found Floating in St. Lawrence River

Seskéha/August 11, 2016

The Mohawk Council of Akwesasne (MCA) would like to inform the community about a recent occurrence of sturgeon being intentionally killed and found in the St. Lawrence River.

The MCA Department of Tehotiennawakon- Environment Program has been informed that 11 sturgeon were recovered floating in the river after being gutted and discarded. It is believed that whoever is responsible for the killing of the fish are removing the eggs; it has been thought that the eggs are being harvested to sell and create caviar. At this time, both the MCA and Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe (SRMT) are investigating the matter.

The Mohawk Council of Akwesasne does not condone these disturbing actions. As Onkwehonwe people, we believe that it is our responsibility, and also the responsibility of visitors to the area, to treat the environment with respect and protect the creatures that live in it. Currently, more conservation efforts have been put into place to help the Lake Sturgeon population recover such as improvements in water quality, regulated water flows from dams and stricter regulations or elimination of commercial and recreational fishing of Lake Sturgeon in Ontario.

Lake Sturgeon is a threatened species in Canada that is under the protection of the Species at Risk Act, which was put in place in 2002, and currently is Canada’s largest freshwater fish. They can be found in North America from Alberta in the west to the St. Lawrence River drainage systems in the east. It has ties to an ancient species of fish that lived more than 200 million years ago and sometimes is referred to as a “living fossil” as a result. Lake Sturgeon can grow up to 2 meters in length, weigh up to 180 kilograms and live up to 55 years for males, and 150 years for females. Females will spawn once every four to five years and most female Lake Sturgeon do not reach sexual maturity until they reach 10 years of age, meaning they do not reproduce as quickly as other freshwater fish. Threats to the Lake Sturgeon include: over-harvesting, poor water quality, and the construction of dams and other river barriers that block their migratory route.

We would like to thank the Akwesasne community member who alerted us of this situation. The Mohawk Council of Akwesasne expresses its gratitude to them and all Akwesasronon who look after our waterways and environment. If you locate any sturgeon or notice suspicious behavior regarding this matter, please contact MCA Conservation at (613) 575-2250 ext. 1021, MCA Environment at (613) 575-2250 ext. 1040, the SRMT Environment Division at (518) 358-5937, the Akwesasne Mohawk Police Service (AMPS) at (613) 575-2340 or the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribal Police at (518) 358-9200.