Meet the experts: WWF’s Stoyan Mihov

WWF's Stoyan Mihov © David Strobl / WWF

Stoyan Mihov is the Project Officer for Bulgaria for the project “Joint actions to raise awareness on overexploitation of Danube sturgeons in Romania and Bulgaria”.

He was born and raised on the Black Sea coast of Bulgaria, but his work brought him to the banks of the Danube. He studied environmental sciences and got plenty of experience in conservation with his first job, restoring the natural connectivity between the lakes of Bourgas and the Black Sea.

“When I was invited to coordinate a wetland restoration project in Persina Nature Park, one of the most fascinating protected areas in Bulgaria, I could not resist. It was a huge change and a huge challenge! River ecosystems are completely different from the marine ecosystems I knew. They are also much better preserved than those on the Black Sea. Still, we have more than 70 endangered fish species in this part of the Danube, including the sturgeons.

As sturgeon fishing is now illegal, facts are by their nature difficult to obtain, and most information is anecdotal. However, from what we can gather, poaching still occurs rather widely. The main driver for overexploitation is the extremely high economic value of sturgeon caviar. There are flourishing black markets in the whole region and illegal caviar from Bulgaria and Romania is found in several other EU Member States.

As a WWF conservationist, I get to observe many fish migrating from the Black Sea up the Danube, as well as the onslaught of all sorts of invasive fishes. And I get to do what I love most – bringing back to their natural state some of the most beautiful places and species on earth. “Joint actions to raise awareness on overexploitation of Danube sturgeons in Romania and Bulgaria” is promising to be a groundbreaking project and I am a proud member of the project team.”

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