IUCN event | 15 Feb, 2024

Proposal for Sturgeon Conservation in the Caspian Sea

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Photo: WWF/George Caracas

The sturgeon populations of the Caspian Sea have declining over the past 40 years to a degree that the latest IUCN Red List Assessment in 2022 listed all of them (but not Acipenser ruthenus) as CR with some populations being in danger to already be Extinct in the Wild (EXW). All Caspian Sea sturgeon populations (Acipenser gueldenstadtii, A. stellatus, A. nudiventris, A. persicus & Huso huso but not A. ruthenus) are listed on Appendix II of CMS. Today, all Caspian sturgeon have declining population trend and depending massively on releases from hatcheries while the numbers of returning adults are decreasing steadily. Due to the fact that migratory sturgeon populations are shared by Caspian Sea range countries, conservation success will depend on a regional coherent approach.

IUCN, WSCS, and WWF host this side event to discuss with Caspian range states and conservation actors in the region, the development of a regional action plan for conservation and rehabilitation of sturgeon in the frame of the CMS. The plan should focus on the harmonization of conservation measures between the range states, specifically to address the pertinent issues of bycatch and poaching to increase survival of fish in the wild, help develop a joint strategy to re-establish functional, self-sustaining populations through a combination of ex situ and in situ conservation measures. Prerequisites for such a plan would be a common commitment for collaboration and a joint characterization of the populations in question, and a joint understanding of the threats that are currently impacting the remaining populations as well as the definition of targets for their recovery.