Effective enforcement is a vital prerequisite for a successful fight against poaching and illegal wildlife trade. WWF’s new manual for the agencies in control of fishing, caviar trade and sturgeon farms seeks to redress the balance. Bulgaria and Romania have a special responsibility for the protection of these highly threatened fishes. Law enforcement agencies need to control both the fishing and the domestic trade as well as – due to the important geographical position – the caviar trade from the Caspian Sea region to other EU Member States.
The manual tells that the main reason Danube sturgeons are so highly endangered is the treasure they carry: their caviar. Due to intensive fishing in the past, wild sturgeons are threatened with extinction in the Danube after having already disappeared in many places around the world.
Tight inland and border controls and good national and cross border cooperation are crucial when it comes to tackling the illegal caviar trade. Illegal caviar trade is not only an issue regarding the protection of endangered species but it may also involve contraband and organized crime. Furthermore, it concerns taxation – with lost tax revenues for the countries – as well as health and veterinary issues. Therefore controls in this regard should be of high priority for Bulgaria and Romania and the EU more widely.
The manual also provides general information on:
- Sturgeon biology and sturgeon species of the Danube
- The current situation of Danube sturgeons
- Legal requirements for fishing of sturgeons
- Trade in sturgeons and sturgeon products
- Legal requirements for the caviar trade
- Legal requirements for the aquaculture production of caviar
The manual, which will be distributed to project target groups and other relevant stakeholders, will ensure that the issue of enforcement stays present in the daily lives of enforcement officials. The manual is an essential part of the information packages developed by the project team, also including selected factsheets, a film, other booklets and a poster.