The MEASURES project will end on July 30th, but our efforts to protect migratory fish continue.
Biodiversity in freshwater ecosystems has declined twice as much as in our oceans or forests. Populations of migratory freshwater fish have declined by 76% since 1970, and sturgeon by 91% globally.
But the future isn't all dark, and the below highlights are proof that our work is making a difference.
Through the campaigns and scientific evidence collected by WWF over the past 15 years, the Romanian law now better protects sturgeon. In April 2021 Romania joined other countries in the region where sturgeon fishing has been banned permanently. So has the sale of wild sturgeon products. Furthermore, fishermen must now report sturgeon by-catches and release them immediately into the relevant catchment, regardless of their health.
Conservation efforts around the world involving local fishermen and consumers, and transboundary collaboration between enforcement authorities, are also showing results. In 2020 near Christmas, a sterlet was caught in Slovenia, in the Drava River, after almost 20 years in which it hadn’t been seen at all. During the same year, in Giorgia, in the Rioni River, anglers were surprised to catch two ship sturgeon, again a species which had not been spotted for years.
Partners in the MEASURES project have released almost 9000 baby sturgeon into the Danube in Romania and Hungary in during the project.
Tagging sturgeon and research is slowly but steadily starting to pay off. One of the baby sturgeon tagged and released in Isaccea in 2020 by INCDD Tulcea arrived five days after release on the Chilia arm, 17 km from the sea. The information collected from these sturgeons is essential to discover migration routes and priority sturgeon habitats.
We therefore need to continue to work with fishermen, involving them in conservation activities, communicate with the general public about sturgeon products and their legality, educate and provide seminars to authorities for better enforcement and, last but not least, increase research and monitoring projects to maintain migration routes for fish.