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Great Lakes Article:

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.



Sources:

UW Sea Grant story: "Sturgeon Experts to Convene in Oshkosh,"

UW Sea Grant site: "Fish of the Great Lakes"

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