The results of the first national study of conservation issues and general attitudes of Danube sturgeons in Bulgaria were presented at a press conference in Sofia today. The study, commissioned by WWF and executed by Market Eyes, was conducted among the general public, fishermen and public administration.
According to the study, fishermen in Bulgaria are not yet accustomed to the ban on catching sturgeons, introduced in 2011.
However, they understand that the ban is reasonable, realizing that this is their only chance to protect this valuable species. 37% of respondents – fishermen from towns along the Danube, agree with the introduction of the ban, while 59% answer “quite agree”. At the same time, one third of the respondents admit that they have heard about sturgeon catching after the introduction of the ban. 72% of the fishermen believe that accidentally caught sturgeons may be retained.
According to the public, most of the problems of sturgeons are associated with pollution of the Danube and overfishing. However, 59% did not know the difference between legal and illegal caviar.
The study also shows a good understanding of the legal framework in Bulgaria by civil servants, but rarely its application in practice. The study did not identify any confiscation of illegal caviar and none of illegal sturgeon catches over the past year in Bulgaria.
The survey also found that Bulgarian institutions responsible for sturgeons and the import and export of caviar do not think they are sufficiently informed. They believe that more resources should be invested in the training of experts and workshops that focus on the practical side of the legislative framework.
The study also found that different institutions only communicate with each other when a problem occurs. This causes poor coordination and makes general checks difficult.