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International Centre For Sturgeon Opens At VIU

CANADA - Following a federal grant of $717,700, Vancouver Island University's (VIU) new International Centre for Sturgeon Studies is now officially open.

The state-of-the-art facility for sturgeon research is being completed in stages with tanks expected to be ready later this autumn for prized brood stock, said ICSS Director, Don Tillapaugh.

Rigorous testing has been undertaken to ensure healthy conditions for all the fish ranging from the under two gram sturgeon that hatched in early summer to the largest of the white sturgeon up to two metres long and weighing in at 80 kilograms.

Partnerships with government, business, First Nations and coastal communities have played an important role in the evolution of sturgeon research at Vancouver Island University, said VIU President and Vice-Chancellor, Ralph Nilson.

Mr Nilson commented: The International Centre for Sturgeon Studies provides students, faculty and staff with labs and equipment that will enable us to learn more about sturgeon and sustainable practices to ensure their long-term viability as a source of food. Our funding partners, combined with the support of individual donors, will keep VIU in the forefront of aquaculture research.

The two-storey, 1,208-square-metre facility houses five wet labs for sturgeon of various ages and a dry lab for associated research. VIU has been involved in sturgeon research since the 1980s. It is the only academic institution in western Canada to have captive white sturgeon brood stock--fish old enough to spawn. In 1991, researchers successfully conducted the first-ever captive spawning of Fraser River white sturgeon.

The International Centre for Sturgeon Studies was showcased at a conference of the North American Chapter of the World Conservation Society that attracted 120 specialists in the field to VIU in July.

VIU and the City of Nanaimo will host the seventh International Symposium on Sturgeon in 2013. The five-day symposium is expected to draw hundreds of educators, researchers, environmentalists, and sturgeon enthusiasts from around the world. The international symposium, which occurs once every four years, will be held at the ICSS and the Vancouver Island Conference Centre in downtown Nanaimo.

Parksville-Qualicum MLA, Ron Cantelon stated: Vancouver Island University has taken its place on the world stage with cutting-edge research that is helping to protect this endangered prehistoric fish. Our government is delighted to see what our $1.6-million investment from the B.C. Knowledge Development Fund has helped to build, and we look forward to future discoveries at the International Centre for Sturgeon Studies.

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