Poachers are not Afraid of Viruses: 2 Sturgeon Rescues, 2 Countries, 2 Days | WWF
Poachers are not Afraid of Viruses: 2 Sturgeon Rescues, 2 Countries, 2 Days

Posted on 24 March 2020

Massive layoffs due to Covid-19 may put even more pressure on this, the most endangered species on the planet, as people search for alternative income sources.
Poachers are not afraid of viruses. Fortunately, the Ukrainian Izmail Frontier Detachment, the Bulgarian Border Police and the Executive Agency of Fisheries and Aquaculture (EAFA) are still very active during this most important period of #sturgeon migration and spawning in the Danube.
 
More than 100 karmaci, long lines with hundreds of hooks, have already been seized in Bulgaria this year. On March 19 alone, more than 40 karmaci were seized near the Bulgarian town of Kozlodui. A 100 kg #Beluga sturgeon was found alive and hooked on one of them. Given the timing and the sturgeon’s body shape (size), he probably spawned within the last few days. The inspectors were able to safely return the sturgeon to the river. WWF-Bulgaria experts from the Life for Danube Sturgeons Project could only be on the scene virtually.
 
On March 20, the Ukrainian Izmail Frontier Detachment seized a 2 m, 150 kg pregnant Beluga sturgeon from two fishermen near the town of Vilkovo. The sturgeon was successfully released back into the Danube, and criminal proceedings were initiated against the fishermen.
 
Massive layoffs due to Covid-19 may put even more pressure on this, the most endangered species on the planet, as people search for alternative income sources. Protecting sturgeon and their habitats is crucial if we are to achieve the New Deal for Nature and People’s goal of zero biodiversity and habitat loss by 2030. Add your voice for the planet 👉 panda.org/voice

For more information:
Roselina Stoeva
Project Coordinator and Regional Communications Officer for Sturgeons,
WWF-Bulgaria
rpeneva@wwf.bg
Tel: +359 885995559

Tetiana Karpiuk
Communication Officer,
WWF-Ukraine
tkarpiuk@wwf.ua
Tel: +38 0973910003

Background
WWF is engaged in sturgeon protection measures in most Danube countries. 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.
 
LIFE FOR DANUBE STURGEONS Project
The EU-funded LIFE project “Sustainable Protection of Lower Danube Sturgeons by Preventing and Counteracting Poaching and Illegal Wildlife Trade” is coordinated by WWF-Austria and implemented by WWF- Austria, WWF-Bulgaria, WWF-Romania, WWF-Serbia and WWF-Ukraine, together with the Danube Delta Biosphere Reserve Authority in Romania and IZW Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research in Germany. It started in October 2016 and will continue until the end of 2020. More on the project and its work to save Danube sturgeons: danube-sturgeons.org
 
More than 100 karmaci, long lines with hundreds of hooks, have already been seized in Bulgaria this year.
© Executive Agency of Fisheries and Aquaculture, Bulgaria
Massive layoffs due to Covid-19 may put even more pressure on this, the most endangered species on the planet, as people search for alternative income sources.
© dpsu.gov.ua