The Key Threats to Sturgeons and Measures for Their Protection in the Lower Danube Region

  • Mirjana Lenhardt
  • Ivan Jarić
  • Gorčin Cvijanović
  • Marija Smederevac-Lalić
Part of the NATO Science for Peace and Security Series C: Environmental Security book series (NAPSC)


The six native sturgeon species have been commercially harvested in the Danube Basin for more than 2,000 years, with rapid decrease in catch by mid 19th century. Additional negative effect on sturgeon populations in the Danube River was river regulation in Djerdap region, due to navigation in the late 19th century, as well as dam construction in the second half of 20th century that blocked sturgeon spawning migrations. Beside over-fishing and habitat loss, illegal trade, life history characteristics of sturgeon, lack of effective management (due to lack of transboundary cooperation and change in political situation in Lower Danube Region countries) and pollution all pose serious threats on sturgeon populations in Lower Danube Region. International measures established by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) in late 20th century, listing of beluga (Huso huso) as an endangered species under the U.S. Endangered Species Act, as well as development of Action plan for conservation of sturgeons in the Danube River Basin, had significant impact on activities related to sturgeon protection at beginning of 21st century. These actions were aimed towards diminishment of pressure on natural sturgeon populations and aquaculture development in countries of Lower Danube Region. The main goal of the Action Plan was to raise public awareness and to create a common framework for implementation of urgent measures. Black Sea Sturgeon Management Action Group (BSSMAG) was founded as a consultative body to improve transboundary cooperation among countries in Lower Danube Region. Nevertheless, more actions are necessary in the field of basic scientific investigation, NGO involvement and better connection among all stakeholders. Everyone involved in sturgeon protection must be aware that the sturgeon recovery, as well as their extinction, is a multi-decadal affair, especially for species with long life and late maturing like beluga. Resource users and other stakeholders must be patient enough to support recovery plans, which will allow only small-scaled sturgeon fisheries, or even fisheries that will be performed by some future generations.


Acipenseriformes CITES aquaculture beluga over-fishing 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mirjana Lenhardt
    • 1
  • Ivan Jarić
    • 2
  • Gorčin Cvijanović
    • 2
  • Marija Smederevac-Lalić
    • 2
  1. 1.Institute for Biological ResearchBelgradeSerbia
  2. 2.Center for Multidisciplinary StudiesSerbia

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