Dramatic Double Sturgeon Discovery in Georgia | WWF
Dramatic Double Sturgeon Discovery in Georgia

Posted on 15 June 2020

The last reported catch of ship sturgeon was in the Hungarian part of the Middle Danube in 2009.
Fauna and Flora International reports the catch of 2 young ship sturgeon, (Acipenser nudiventris) in the Rioni River in Georgia. Since the last reported catch of Ship Sturgeon was in the Hungarian part of the Middle Danube in 2009, and that there have been no documented catches in Romania for at least 30-40 years, the current assumption is that they derive from a restocking project in the Kuban River. However, if indeed they really come from natural reproduction in the Rioni, this would make a sensational discovery. Genetic analysis is pending. The IUCN status of ship sturgeons could be elevated back from "extinct in the wild.” In Europe, only the Danube and the Roni Rivers can still provide habitats to self-reproducing wild sturgeon populations. Sturgeons are the most endangered species on the planet; highly threatened by hydropower dams, poaching and bycatch.

Facts and Figures

  • This sturgeon matures relatively late and lives up to 30 years.
  • The Ship Sturgeon likes to live at sea, close to shores and estuaries. In freshwater it favours deep stretches of large rivers.
  • The Ship Sturgeon spends at least part of its life in salt water, returning to rivers to breed, but some non-migratory freshwater populations also exist.
WWF is engaged in sturgeon protection measures in most Danube countries, for example through the Life for Danube Sturgeons Project. Sturgeons used to be present in almost all European rivers, but today seven out of the eight species of sturgeon on the European continent are threatened with extinction. Sturgeons have survived the dinosaurs, but now teeter on the brink of extinction. The Black Sea Region is crucial to the survival of these species in Europe. The Danube and the Rioni River in Georgia are the only two rivers remaining in Europe where migrating sturgeons reproduce naturally. The main reasons are overfishing and loss of habitat through dams that block migration routes or in-river constructions, facilitating navigation. These are often detrimental to the feeding and spawning habitats, necessary for sturgeon survival. Within the EU the only river with naturally reproducing sturgeon populations remains the Danube. Crucial but no longer reproductive stocks are left in the Po River in Italy and the Gironde in France. Restocking activities take place in Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania, France, Germany, Poland, Austria and the Netherlands. Our priority is to identify and protect the critical habitats of the remaining four sturgeon species (Huso huso, Acipenser stellatus, A. ruthenus, A. gueldenstaedtii) in the Lower Danube and north-western Black Sea, as well as to reduce pressure on their remaining populations by addressing poaching and ensuring protection.
 
See full FFI article: https://www.fauna-flora.org/news/sturgeon-sensation-dramatic-double-discovery-fish-brink-extinction
 
Fauna and Flora International reports the catch of 2 young ship sturgeon.
© Irakli Tsulaia
The Danube and the Rioni River in Georgia are the only two rivers remaining in Europe where migrating sturgeons reproduce naturally.
© Fleur Scheele-FFI
There have been no documented catches in Romania for at least 30-40 years.
© Life for Danube Sturgeons
This sturgeon matures relatively late and lives up to 30 years.
© Irakli Tsulaia