Prohibition of fixed gillnets with larger mesh sizes in the Ukrainian Danube delta means better protection for Danube sturgeons
The fixed nets with larger mesh sizes are a major threat to marine mammals (mostly harbour porpoises). Dolphins and sturgeons are victims of the fishing nets with larger mesh sizes (45 mm, usually 70-120 mm). In Ukraine, catching sturgeons is a criminal offence and the same is true for dolphins, as both are strictly protected species. Except for Sterlets, all Danube sturgeon species live mainly in the Black Sea, migrating into the river to spawn. Chances for sturgeons to get caught in the fishing nets are much higher when they enter the Danube river on the way to their spawning sites.
Improvements in Ukrainian fishing regulations, that have been achieved so far, are crucial for sturgeon conservation:
- the prohibition of using thread thicker than 1,2 mm in fishing nets (‘the armored”) where sturgeons are caught on the way to their spawning grounds;
- limiting maximum height of the fishing drift nets to 6 m (they used to be up to 12 m before);
- and the newest – prohibition of the fixed gillnets with larger mesh sizes (over 45 mm) for non-specialised fishing in the delta of the Danube river.