World Wildlife Fund releases 300 baby sturgeon into the Danube to boost endangered species

Pui de nistetru eliberat in Dunare. Copyright WWF, INCDD
Pui de nistetru eliberat in Dunare. Copyright WWF, INCDD
Hundreds of baby sturgeons were successfully released into the Danube in an effort
to boost the wild populations of the critically endangered fish, one of the four
remaining native Danube sturgeon species.

World Wildlife Fund Romania has been working to protect sturgeon and their natural habitats. Last year, the group released over 1,000 young sturgeons into the Danube.

All the young sturgeons are with proven Danube origin, which is important for their
success in adapting to the natural environment and to make sure that the natural
populations are not exposed to further risk by introducing non-native competitors.

The baby sturgeons were reared in an aquaculture facility in the eastern Danube port of Tulcea in conditions close to what they will face in the river.  

Three hundred were released in the eastern of Isaccea on Wednesday and were
micro-chipped so they can be tracked by the group and saved from poachers.
The fish were about a year old, 30 centimeters long, and weighed 200 grams.    

The Danube sturgeon was the most common species on the river. But its population dwindled after the Iron Gates hydroelectric dams were built in the 1970s and 1980s which stopped the fish reaching its spawning grounds on the Lower Danube.

WWF experts expect the young fish will now find a suitable place to feed and grow,
before setting off on their journey to the Black Sea.

“As commercial fishing is banned, we think the baby sturgeon have a great chance
of safely reaching the sea to grow and to return to the Danube to reproduce” said Marian Tudor, the general director of the  Danube Delta National Research-Development Institute in Tulcea.

There is currently a complete ban on sturgeon fishing in the Danube and the
Black Sea.

But larger fish, which swim upstream to reproduce still fall prey to poaching
because of the high price their caviar and meat fetches on the black market.

WWF warns that any product from wild sturgeons are illegal and that the illegal
trade harms the few remaining populations of sturgeons, the local fishermen’s future income and aquaculture facilities, which have made huge investments to produce
sturgeons in accordance with environmental and health legislation.  
  A fully-grown sturgeon can reach 2.35 meters and weigh over 100 kilograms.   .


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