Sturgeons | WWF
© naturepl.com / Frei / ARCO / WWF

Sturgeons

The Sturgeon Initiative

Sturgeons are the most endangered species group on earth. These gentle giants have been around since the age of the dinosaurs, but are now on the brink of extinction due to overfishing, a flourishing illegal caviar trade and habitat loss. A wave of new hydropower dams, particularly in the Danube basin, could be the final straw for some species. But we can still save sturgeons. And in the process, revive the rivers they live in for the benefit of people and nature.

WWF is working with communities, civil society, companies, scientists, law enforcement authorities and governments across the world to save these extraordinary fish. Sturgeons are economically and culturally important in every river basin and country across their traditional range. We are aiming to rebuild their populations by tackling the illegal caviar trade and enhancing the health of river systems, which are the lifeblood of both people and fish.

23 OF THE 27 STURGEON SPECIES ARE ON THE BRINK OF EXTINCTION

Our Approach

© iStockphoto.com darkbird77

Fighting the Black Market

WWF, together with TRAFFIC, is fighting the black market in key countries by collecting evidence of the illegal caviar trade, raising public awareness, and advocating for stronger enforcement policies. As a large domestic and export market for caviar, Russia is a major focus.

© Fisherman, Carpathian Ecoregion

Long Term Solutions

WWF is building long term solutions by engaging local fishing communities to become active in sturgeon conservation. Along the Danube we will also build alternative livelihood options for fishing communities.

© Michel Gunther / WWF

Protect and Restore

WWF is working to protect and restore key sturgeon habitat around the world through: 1) better data and monitoring; 2) influencing local planning processes to prevent new harmful infrastructure, like dams, and to protect important breeding areas; and 3) adapting existing dams to reconnect sturgeon migration routes.

© Russian Caviar House

Stop Illegal Fishing

WWF is stopping illegal fishing by training and supporting enforcement agencies, such as border police and fishing authorities.

WWF is partnering with key organizations like the World Sturgeon Conservation Society, TRAFFIC, UNEP, IUCN, and others to influence policies, stop the illegal caviar trade, and breed and release sturgeon back into the wild.