April 26, 2013 - 4:45am

NANAIMO, BC - Rick Hansen, Founding Chair of the Fraser River Sturgeon Conservation Society (FRSCS) and Co-Chair of the Rick Hansen Foundation, will open the plenary session as Honorary Chair of the 7th International Sturgeon Symposium (ISS7) July 2013 in Nanaimo, BC, Canada.

Expected to attract more than 600 delegates from around the world, the symposium is co-hosted by Vancouver Island University’s International Centre for Sturgeon Studies and the City of Nanaimo.

Under Hansen’s leadership, the FRSCS develops and promotes education, public awareness initiatives, award-winning research programs and recovery plans for the Fraser River white sturgeon population.

Hansen received an Honorary Doctor of Laws from Vancouver Island University in 2009 for his leadership and inspiration to millions of people around the world.

“Champions are required to lead important causes, and we are honored to have Rick Hansen accept our invitation to be Honorary Chair of the ISS7,” said Dr. Ralph Nilson, President and Vice-Chancellor of VIU.

“His trail-breaking work to support white sturgeon conservation through the FRSCS is yet another remarkable example of the value to society that a champion like Rick Hansen can play by mobilizing public support and involvement on critical conservation issues.”

Dr. Harald Rosenthal, President of the World Sturgeon Conservation Society, said, “Rick’s work in public engagement is one of the few examples we have that vividly demonstrates what public participation can achieve in species conservation. The public world-wide needs to hear about these living dinosaurs which may face a dire future without the much needed conservation efforts promoted by FRSCS and its leader. Rick Hansen’s efforts serve as a model for other jurisdictions and efforts should be globally coordinated with the few already travelling the same path.”

“I am truly honored to be selected as Honorary Chair of this event,” said Rick Hansen. “As part of a collaborative team, we’ve spent more than a decade investigating issues that affect the recovery of Fraser River white sturgeon. This symposium will make a difference – it represents the next step in attaining world awareness of preserving vibrant, diverse, ecosystems and developing a healthy planet.”

Hansen, along with President Nilson and Dr. Rosenthal, will welcome delegates to ISS7 at the opening reception in Nanaimo on Sunday evening, July 21, 2013. The next morning, Hansen will deliver the opening address of the conference, entitled “Public involvement as a necessary force/strategy for sturgeon conservation.”

For more information about the ISS7 symposium or Vancouver Island University’s International Centre for Sturgeon Studies, go to iss7.viu.ca

Rick Hansen Bio

Rick Hansen’s earliest memories are of fishing adventures with his grandfather, father, uncle and cousins. At the age of 15, Rick sustained a spinal cord injury on his way home from a fishing trip.

Following his injury, fishing proved to be therapeutic and helped Rick realize that he was still an adventurer. Using adapted equipment, he ventured out again with family and friends, catching lots of fish and realizing that life could continue.

A gold-medal Paralympian and World Champion wheelchair marathoner, Rick became best known as the Man In Motion for spearheading one of history’s most memorable journeys – the Rick Hansen Man In Motion World Tour. For 26 months, he and his team wheeled over 40,000 km through 34 countries raising awareness about the potential of people with disabilities. While the Tour ended in 1987 in Vancouver, Rick’s lifelong journey to make a positive difference in the lives of others was just beginning.

Today, Rick also uses fishing and his passion for environmental stewardship as a way to make a difference. He is the Founding Chair of the Fraser River Sturgeon Conservation Society which works to conserve and protect Fraser River white sturgeon and their habitat.

“People who are passionate about fishing play a vital role in conservation, awareness and sustainability,” says Rick. “While I encourage everyone to participate in the wonderful sport of fishing, I also encourage them to respect the environment and to look for ways they can ensure our resources will be available for generations to come.”

ABOUT VIU: Vancouver Island University is Canada’s west coast university. Known as a centre of excellence for teaching, learning and applied research, VIU offers a diverse range of certificate, diploma and undergraduate and master degree programs to more than 18,000 students on campuses in Nanaimo, Powell River and Cowichan, and at the Parksville-Qualicum Centre. For more information visit www.viu.ca

Janina Stajic, Manager, Vancouver Island University
P: 250.740.6288 E: Communications@viu.ca Twitter: @VIUNews

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