Sturgeon Suffering In Region
Times get tough for an ancient fish.
By John Karl
Article courtesy of Earthwatch Radio
Program script for Thursday, September 27, 2001
Sturgeon are the oldest and the largest of all species
of freshwater fish. They've been cruising large lakes
and rivers since dinosaurs roamed the Earth. Some species
grow up to 15 feet long, and they can weigh thousands
of pounds and live more than a century.
Sturgeon have lived through a lot in the last 200 million
years, but the next hundred may be their toughest. Pollution,
loss of habitat and overfishing have cut their numbers
around the world, and these pressures are increasing.
One major area of concern is the Caspian Sea, which
is bordered by Russia, Iran, and several other countries.
The Caspian Sea is home to some of the largest and most
valued sturgeon on the planet. The eggs of the beluga
sturgeon have been made into prized caviar for centuries,
but the numbers of these fish have dropped during the
past 20 years because of overharvesting and habitat loss.
Harold Rosenthal says concern about sturgeon is growing,
but that concern needs to translate into increased protection.
Rosenthal is a fisheries scientist at the University of
Kiel in Germany.
"The concern is increasing, but there's a need,
not only to increase the concern but also to come up with
action plans pretty soon, because in many areas we don't
have much room and time to play anymore. They are really
endangered, and there's an urgent need for this type of
protection so political actions also can be taken."
Rosenthal spoke this summer at the 4th International
Symposium on Sturgeon, held in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. Nearly
400 scientists, resource managers, and policy makers from
23 countries compared notes on the biology and status
of the world's sturgeon. They hope that a better understanding
of this ancient creature -- and better conservation --
can help this living fossil survive modern times.
UW Sea Grant story: "Sturgeon
Experts to Convene in Oshkosh,"
UW Sea Grant site:
"Fish of the Great Lakes"