An action plan for the conservation of sterlet (Acipenser ruthenus) in Hungary Prepared
– Propagation and reintroduction of endangered and commercially exploitable native fish species –
The decline in species richness of native fish fauna, the decrease in fish populations and the narrowing of their distribution area were detectable as early as the 19th century in the larger river systems of Europe (Kottelat and Freyhof 2007). Sturgeon are among the most valuable commercial fishes, but in the second half of the 20th century, their abundance and range began to rapidly decline and now these fish are threatened, critically endangered or disappearing entirely. At the beginning of the 21st century, it became clear that the sturgeon population continued to decline, despite efforts to protect them, so a comprehensive international action plan (Bloesch et al. 2006) was prepared in order to avoid their extinction in the Danube river system. This action plan was also adopted by the Standing Committee of the Bern Convention in 2005.
The adoption of the macro-regional EU Strategy for the Danube Region (EUSDR) in 2011 greatly contributed to the implementation of the international action plan. The aim of the EUSDR is to promote the sustainable development of the Danube macro-region and to protect natural areas, landscapes and cultural values. The strategy, which focuses on 11 priority areas, was developed for the specific challenges affecting the Danube region, two of which are directly related to the protection of sturgeon and migratory fish. One of the objectives of the 4th priority area (PA 4 – Restoration and preservation of water quality) is to improve the protection of migratory fish species in the Danube and to promote measures enabling fish migration in the Danube basin. One of the most important goals of the 6th priority area (PA 6 – Preservation of biodiversity, landscape, and air and soil quality) is the development and implementation of conservation or management plans for the endangered “flagship” species (sturgeon) of the Danube region.
The EUSDR supports the development of transnational cooperation for the purpose of nature conservation, and helped to facilitate the establishment of the Danube Sturgeon Task Force (DSTF) in 2012. The DSTF is an international working group of sturgeon experts, NGO delegates, representatives of the International Commission for the Protection of the Danube River (ICPDR), EUSDR and national governments. The mission of the DSTF is to coordinate sturgeon conservation in the Danube water system and the Black Sea region. The Sturgeon 2020 program was developed (Sandu et al. 2013) by integration with the previous action plan, which, in 2016, the European Commission regarded as a successful initiative of outstanding importance.
The study presented here proposes an achievable, realistic action plan for the growth and conservation of self-sustaining sterlet populations, a common interest to fish farms and nature conservation programmes.
The study was supported by the Fisheries Management Department of the Hungarian Ministry of Agriculture. Its English translation was supported by the Coordination of the EU Strategy for the Danube Region, Hungarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade in 2023.
The document can be downloaded from here[download-attachment id=”4243″ title=”Sterlet Action Plan EN 2023.10.05″].