The first Round Table, part of the project, took place in Galați, Romania, in close proximity to a significant number of institutes, NGOs and authorities working on the subject of sturgeons, as well as fishermen associations. The participants shared information and discussed the current state of research into sturgeons, aquaculture development and repopulation, the problems fishermen face today and the sturgeon fishing ban.
Participants in the Round Table included representatives of the Romanian Border Police, National Customs Authority, National Authority for Fishing and Aquaculture, Ecological Counseling Center Galati, Research and Development Institute for Aquatic Ecology, Fishing and Aquaculture Galati, “Dunarea De Jos” University Galati, Research and Development Institute for Aquatic Ecology, Fishing and Aquaculture, Danube Delta Biosphere Reserve Authority, Danube Delta National Institute Tulcea, Environmental Protection and Alpine Tourism Club Braila, Natural Sciences Museum Complex “Rasvan Agheluta”, “Lotca” Fishing Association Galati, Grindu fishing association and WWF Romania.
Key conclusions on the subject of research into sturgeons:
- Participants agreed that available data on sturgeon populations, habitats and migration is poor because of lack of funds and coordination between research facilities. In particular, the breeding, wintering and feeding places of sturgeons in the Danube are still very much unknown.
- Participants estimated that if the general fish productivity of the Danube has remained the same, the number of fishermen is too high, significantly reducing the revenues for each individual fishermen.
- Research carried out in Isaccea Sturgeon Monitoring Station showed a slight recovery of Beluga stocks, which could be the result of repopulation made around 2006.
Key conclusion on the subject of aquaculture:
- Participants showed strong support for aquaculture and repopulation with sturgeons, but it has yet to be agreed if the repopulation material should be delivered by a government institute with traditions in sturgeon aquaculture or by private sturgeon farms.
Key conclusions on the fishermen situation:
- Participants agreed that the 2006 fishing ban affected fishermen very much, especially those in the Danube Delta. Currently, they fish for shad and other small fish, but this does not bringing them the same income and they tend not to report the real captures.
- Fishermen consider that the 2006 fishing ban was not a good idea because it led to poaching, which cannot be controlled. According to rumours in 2012 – 2013 around 100 sturgeons were poached, among them at least 12 Belugas in Grindu.
- National Agency for Fishing and Aquaculture and fishermen representatives consider that there are too many authorities involved in controlling activities, resulting in inefficient control. The general opinion was that all other authorities should perform their activities only in the presence of a NAFA representative.Accessing the European Fishery funds was also demonstrated to be a problem. Even though money is available, eligibility requirements, bureaucracy and need for co-financing restrict fishermen from accessing these funds.
Key conclusion on the fishing ban expiring at the end of 2015:
- Everyone agree that there will not be enough sturgeons to allocate quota to all fishermen (3330 along the Lower Danube and in Danube Delta in Romania). One suggestion was to continue the ban but allow each community to fish 1-2 sturgeons each year under the control of the authorities.