WWF Sturgeon project wins EU funding

© Hartmut Jungius / WWF-Canon

The project “Joint actions to raise awareness on overexploitation of Danube sturgeons in Romania and Bulgaria” has been approved by the EU’s Life+ programme for funding.  The project will be implemented by WWF in Austria, Bulgaria and Romania from July 2012 until September 2015. It will tackle overfishing, the main direct threat to the survival of Danube sturgeons.

Danube sturgeons are an ancient migratory fish that are today on the brink of extinction mainly due to overfishing for their valuable caviar. Their decline is clearly documented by the rapidly decreasing catches in the last decades. The reasons for the decline are complex, but lack of awareness and information is a root cause of the most important one, overfishing.

“Our target groups are fishing communities, law enforcement agencies, decision makers, sturgeon breeders and caviar processors and traders in Romania and Bulgaria”, said Jutta Jahrl, Project Manager from WWF in Austria.

“Our main goal is that by 2015 no sturgeons are illegally fished at least in the 15 fishing communities in Bulgaria and Romania that we will work with”, Jahrl said. “We also want to get on board export companies in Bulgaria and Romania and to make them commit to zero illegal sourcing of wild sturgeons and caviar”.

The project team also envisages stronger enforcement and political support for the protection of Danube sturgeons by 2015. It is hoped that by the end of the project, all target groups will show at least 50% increased awareness and knowledge of overexploitation of sturgeons.

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