Illegally caught: 130 kg of critically endangered sturgeon in Ukraine
“It’s really good news. These arrests used to happen rarely, so we obviously see that our law-enforcement structures are willing to fight the “sturgeon mafia”. On behalf of WWF in Ukraine, I would like to thank all parties involved in the case. We are going to follow it through as we have done with all previous cases involving sturgeon poachers,” said Natalia Gozak, a Project Coordinator of WWF-Ukraine. “The poached sturgeons appeared to be rather small - probably two to four year-olds. With spawning starting much later, these fish are young teenagers! And they are still of interest to the organized poaching groups.”
The transboundary project “LIFE for Danube Sturgeons” launched In October 2016 is aiming to support such law enforcement efforts. It is co-funded by the European Commission and led by WWF. Activities implemented in Ukraine, Romania, Bulgaria and Serbia aim at stopping illegal sturgeon fishing and trade in order to reduce pressures on endangered sturgeons in the Lower Danube and northwestern Black Sea region and include:
- national workshops to facilitate networking and exchange of experiences of all national agencies responsible for implementing regulations concerning sturgeon fishing, aquaculture and trade;
- discussions of best practice approaches to enhance law enforcement and investigation processes;
- involvement of prosecution and judicial authorities to strengthen essential cooperation of the entire enforcement chain;
- a regional workshop with agencies from neighbouring countries to foster crucial cross-border coordination and collaboration;
- training courses, study visits, targeted information measures and newsletters tailored to the needs of specific authorities to enhance their expertise and practical skills.