MEASURES - Giving Back to Nature: Restocking the Danube With Sturgeon


Kester Eddy from the Budapest Business Journal took a look at the concerted efforts made in Hungary to increase sturgeon numbers in the Danube River. 

"The box on the trailer looks plain, utilitarian and rather uninteresting as it is maneuvered down the slipway towards the Danube river. The location is Baja, southern Hungary, and the trailer stops a few yards from the water. A team of six men open it: inside, 460 juvenile sterlet, the smallest species of sturgeon, have one, short journey to make before they are released into the wild.

Having checked the temperatures of both river and tank water, the men move quickly, scooping the young fish out of the big tank in nets, transferring them into buckets, about a dozen at a time, before releasing them into the river.

At first, some look confused, barely moving in their new found freedom. Others turn belly up, and appear at risk of dying. But after no more than a minute or so, sometimes helped by human hand, all successfully swim off into deeper water. All are tagged for later identification if caught.

This scene, observed in mid-May this year, was the latest chapter in a long-running effort to restock the Danube with sturgeon species in Hungary, Bulgaria and Romania.

<<These restockings are intended to strengthen the native sturgeon populations in the Danube region, supporting the unity of the ecological green-corridor, and is especially important for migratory fish species,>> László Berzi-Nagy, assistant research fellow at the Hungarian Institute for Fisheries and Aquaculture (NAIK-HAKI).

Indeed, this restocking, part of an EU-backed, so-called MEASURES project, is only the latest in a long-line of efforts that began during the late communist era and has seen some 210,000 sterlet in total introduced into the Hungarian section of the Danube since 1988.

Such operations typically involve cooperation between research institutes, fishing associations and academics, while in some cases Hungarian fish farms and regional angling associations have voluntarily restocked sterlet without recording the number of fish involved.

In the May project, the sterlet, all about one year old and weighing around half a kilogram, were bred and raised by the Aquaculture Institute. But, the layman might ask, why are such large numbers of fish seemingly needed?"

Read the rest of the story on the Budapest Business Journal's website:

Programme co-funded by European Union funds (ERDF, IPA, ENI)