Danube sturgeon

Danube giants

Until the 19th century, giant Beluga sturgeon the length of a small bus migrated as far as Germany and were important mainstays for many communities. Today, this ancient fish is on the brink of extinction.

Dams have cut off the sturgeon's migration routes. Diking and draining of 80% of the Danube's former floodplains has removed important spawning and feeding areas. Overfishing has taken its toll as well. Now projects to improve navigation on the Lower Danube threaten to destroy some of the last sturgeon spawning areas and migration routes.

In addressing these challenges, WWF focuses on:

Policy work. WWF initiated and facilitated development of the Danube Sturgeon Action Plan, which has been adopted by the Bern Convention. Since then, Danube governments have formally committed to implementing the plan.

Protecting and restoring Danube floodplains, especially on the Lower Danube.

Restoring migration across the Iron Gates dams -- WWF is working with the International Commission for the Protection of the Danube River and the governments of Romania and Serbia to examine options for making the dams passable to sturgeon and other species, which could extend migration and habitats by 1,000 km up to Slovakia.

Stopping threats to sturgeon from navigation and other projects.

Promoting sustainable management.


 / ©: WWF Austria
Sturgeons have been of economic importance for their meat and eggs (caviar). 5 of the 6 sturgeon species that were once native to the Danube are extinct or close to extinction, including the gigantic Beluga (Huso huso), which can grow to the size of a small bus. The loss of spawning grounds and disruption of migration routes are among the main threats.
© WWF Austria

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