Native Fish Conservation Aquaculture

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Kootenai River white sturgeon and burbot were keystone species in the Kootenai River and are of immeasurable cultural value to the Kootenai Tribe. These native fish once sustained a culturally important Tribal fishery as well as a valued recreational fishery. A precipitous decline in both populations eliminated the Tribe’s ability to fish for these culturally important species. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service listed Kootenai sturgeon as endangered under the ESA in 1994. The Tribe began a sturgeon conservation aquaculture program in 1989 in order to preserve an adequate demographic and genetic base for a healthy future population. Native Kootenai River burbot are almost extinct. A Kootenai Valley Resource Initiative (KVRI) Burbot Conservation Strategy was completed in 2005 and a multilateral conservation agreement was signed to ensure burbot population decline would be addressed.
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Native Fish Conservation Aquaculture

Sturgeon-Adult1
Kootenai River white sturgeon and burbot were keystone species in the Kootenai River and are of immeasurable cultural value to the Kootenai Tribe. These native fish once sustained a culturally important Tribal fishery as well as a valued recreational fishery. A precipitous decline in both populations eliminated the Tribe’s ability to fish for these culturally important species. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service listed Kootenai sturgeon as endangered under the ESA in 1994. The Tribe began a sturgeon conservation aquaculture program in 1989 in order to preserve an adequate demographic and genetic base for a healthy future population. Native Kootenai River burbot are almost extinct. A Kootenai Valley Resource Initiative (KVRI) Burbot Conservation Strategy was completed in 2005 and a multilateral conservation agreement was signed to ensure burbot population decline would be addressed.

Project Goals

The Kootenai Tribe of Idaho’s conservation aquaculture program is designed to restore populations of Kootenai sturgeon and native burbot. The goals of the Kootenai River white sturgeon aquaculture program are to:

         
  • Prevent extinction of Kootenai sturgeon by preserving the locally adapted genotypes, phenotypes, and associated life history traits of the population.
         
  • Restore a healthy age class structure to enhance demographic and genetic viability and persistence of the population.
         
  • Reestablish a sturgeon population capable of future Tribal Treaty subsistence and cultural harvest.
The goal of the Tribe’s burbot aquaculture program is:
         
  • To reestablish a native burbot population in the lower Kootenai River capable of future Tribal Treaty subsistence and cultural harvest and sport harvest once the population reaches sustainable levels.

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AN INTEGRATED, COLLABORATIVE APPROACH


The Integrated Program is grounded in a core set of guiding principles:

  • Science-based–  Science-based decision making and management;
  • default_title–  Respect for and integration of Tribal cultural values and local social and economic values;
  • default_title–  Collaborative implementation in cooperation with co-managers and stakeholders including transboundary coordination;
  • default_title–  Incorporation of multi-disciplinary input and review;
  • default_title–  Understanding that when dealing with dynamic ecosystems, uncertainty is inevitable, therefore learning through structured adaptive management processes is critical.
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