White sturgeon (Acipenser transmontanus) in the Columbia River in Canada have recently been listed as Endangered/Critically Imperiled, based on a shift in size and age-class composition from a population dominated by juveniles in the early 1980s to one presently dominated by adults. This shift has been attributed to a poor survival of early life stages. To determine the causes for this poor survival, investigations conducted annually since 1990 have focussed on identifying white sturgeon movement patterns, population dynamics, reproductive biology, and critical habitats. The reasons for the low recruitment remain poorly understood but river regulation and reservoir formation due to dam construction and pollution from municipal and industrial effluent inputs are suspected as contributing factors.

The history of dam development on the Columbia River and implications to white sturgeon are discussed from a historical perspective. A synopsis of post-1990 study results is provided and discussed in the framework of management strategies that include: 1) angling regulations, 2) flow enhancement strategies during spawning, 3) development of a population stabilization plan, 4) investigations into the feasibility of artificial stock supplementation, and 5) proposed future study programs to identify factors limiting recruitment.