July 2, 2013 - 3:51am

World sturgeon experts will gather in Nanaimo, BC for the 7th International Symposium on Sturgeon (ISS7) from July 21 to 25.

Entitled “Sturgeon, Science and Society – at the Crossroads: Meeting the Challenges of the 21st Century”, the symposium will set the stage for future sturgeon research and conservation efforts around the world. The symposium is being co-hosted by Vancouver Island University and the City of Nanaimo at the Vancouver Island Conference Centre.

“This prestigious international symposium is the premier conference on sturgeon held every four years by the World Sturgeon Conservation Society (WSCS),” explained conference Chair and Director of VIU’s International Centre for Sturgeon Studies, Don Tillapaugh.

“ISS7 will build upon previous meetings held in China (2009), Iran (2005) and the United States (2001). These meetings give scientists, policy makers and industry representatives an opportunity to assess progress in sturgeon research and to develop priorities for future studies.”

Sturgeon are considered ‘living dinosaurs’ as they have remained largely unchanged for over 160 million years. Yet their future is in peril. Sturgeon worldwide are an endangered species due to over-harvesting and other challenges, yet sturgeon aquaculture (for meat, caviar, skin, bioactive compounds, etc.) is a fast growing sector of the global aquaculture industry.

“Great efforts are underway to conserve and in many cases rescue these valuable fish,” said Tillapaugh. “At the same time, a vibrant industry is developing and producing sturgeon products without dependence on wild populations.”

During the ISS7, more than 300 researchers and world sturgeon experts will examine topics critical to sturgeon and provide the most up-to-date reports on the progress of conservation and restoration efforts worldwide. Interactive workshops and discussion forums will focus on seven themes including General Biology and Ecology; Status and Management of Populations; Sturgeon – a Heritage Fish; Human Impacts on Sturgeon Stocks and Mitigation Measures; Aquaculture; Caviar, Processing and Marketing; and Regulations for Conservation and International Trade.

“All of this information will be vital for the conservation of sturgeon and the continued development of the sturgeon aquaculture industry which itself plays a strong role in reducing fishing pressures on wild sturgeon and in creating new approaches to sturgeon conservation,” added Tillapaugh.

As Honorary Chair of the ISS7, Rick Hansen, Founding Chair of the Fraser River Sturgeon Conservation Society (FRSCS) and Co-Chair of the Rick Hansen Foundation, will welcome delegates at the opening ceremonies on Monday, July 22 along with VIU President and Vice-Chancellor Dr. Ralph Nilson and Dr. Harald Rosenthal, President of the World Sturgeon Conservation Society.

Hansen will also deliver the first plenary session in a presentation called “Public involvement as a necessary force/strategy for sturgeon conservation.” 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.

On Tuesday morning Peter Redmayne, President of Sea Fare Group and editor of the respected Seafood Leader and Simply Seafood magazines will speak on “Trends in Global Seafood Marketing.”

National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations and Vancouver Island University Chancellor Shawn A-in-chut Atleo will attend the ISS7 on July 25, delivering a plenary speech on First Nations and Tribal American sturgeon related initiatives.

While visiting Nanaimo, ISS7 delegates will take part in special events and tours including a First Nations traditional feast in a longhouse with dancers and story-telling, tours of VIU’s Deep Bay Marine Field Station in Bowser and VIU’s $5.2-million International Centre for Sturgeon Studies at the Nanaimo campus and a marine tour of Baynes Sound.

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


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


Janina Stajic, Manager, Communications and Public Engagement, Vancouver Island University P: 250.740.6288 E: Twitter: @VIUNews

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