Navigation Links
New research shows fishery management practices for beluga sturgeon must change
Date:2/25/2010

STONY BROOK, NY, February 25, 2010 - A first-of-its-kind study of a Caspian Sea beluga sturgeon (Huso huso) fishery demonstrates current harvest rates are four to five times higher than those that would sustain population abundance. The study's results, which will be published in an upcoming issue of the journal Conservation Biology, suggest that conservation strategies for beluga sturgeon should focus on reducing the overfishing of adults rather than heavily relying upon hatchery supplementation.

The quantitative analysis was conducted through an unprecedented collaboration of scientists from the United States and Kazakhstan. Data used in the study were collected in the Ural River, the only remaining Caspian Sea river where beluga sturgeon reproduce unhindered by dams.

"This is the first time that anyone has calculated sustainable harvest limits for Caspian Sea beluga sturgeon and compared them to present fishing pressure," said Dr. Phaedra Doukakis, Senior Research Scientist with the Institute for Ocean Conservation Science at Stony Brook University and lead author of the study. "We can finally attach numbers to what people have suspected that current management of Caspian Sea sturgeon fisheries will not prevent further population decline. We hope that this study provides the evidence needed to shift mindsets and management practices," added Dr. Doukakis.

Populations of beluga sturgeon have declined by nearly 90 percent in the past several decades due to the high demand for black caviar, inadequate management, and habitat degradation.

Black caviar, the unfertilized roe (eggs) of the beluga sturgeon, is the most valuable of all caviar, and can be sold for as much as $8,000 for one kilogram (2.2 pounds). There has been grave concern about increasingly dwindling numbers of this already depleted species, which has gone extinct in the Adriatic Sea and is on the brink of extinction in the Azov Sea.

The results of the analyses* conducted by the participating scientists show that fishing pressure far exceeds sustainable levels and that limiting the take of adult and subadult sturgeon will contribute more to the population growth rate as compared with hatchery supplementation.

The beluga sturgeon can live more than 100 years, and do not reach maturity until 9 to 20 years of age. The researchers found that the optimal age of first harvest is 31 years because older and larger fish produce more eggs. Conservation efforts would be much more effective than current practices if minimum size limits for fishing targeted this optimum age for first capture and if the illegal harvest of subadult fish were reduced. These fishing limits would allow the survival of subadult and adult females and would increase population productivity by ten times that achieved by hatchery supplementation, according to the study's findings.

Currently the fishery management focus for beluga sturgeon conservation is on using hatcheries to sustain the population. However, survival of hatchery-reared fish in the wild is thought to be very low. Additionally, genetic diversity may be compromised by hatchery practices, which can potentially jeopardize the long-term survival of all beluga sturgeon. Despite the potential threats posed by hatchery fish, regulatory agencies allow more fishing (higher quotas) by countries with higher hatchery output.

"This study clearly shows that reducing the mortality of wild beluga sturgeon adults is a much more effective conservation strategy than hatchery supplementation," said Dr. Ellen Pikitch, Executive Director of the Institute for Ocean Conservation Science and a co-author of the study. "Ten hatchery fish would need to be produced to achieve the same conservation benefit as preventing the kill of a single wild beluga sturgeon. It's clear that the focus of sturgeon management in the region has been misplaced and must change. A shift in practices could prevent further declines in beluga sturgeon and ultimately promote recovery," added Dr. Pikitch.

The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) listed beluga and most other species of sturgeon as threatened in 1998 with an Appendix II listing. However, beluga sturgeon numbers have declined by approximately sixty percent from the time of the listing through 2005 showing that existing management of beluga sturgeon fisheries has not been effective. The new research results suggest that a change in management focus is critical to stabilization and recovery of the species.

Drs. Pikitch and Doukakis will present the findings of this study and related research on the status of beluga sturgeon at a meeting they are convening on March 18, 2010 at the 15th Conference of Parties to CITES in Doha, Qatar.


'/>"/>

Contact: Cindy Yeast
media@oceanconservationscience.org
202-236-5413
Stony Brook University
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Researchers issue outlook for a significant New England red tide in 2010
2. Dog bites research: UAB testing software to teach kids, dogs to interact safely
3. Research builds on genetic link to autism and schizophrenia
4. Successful genome sequencing of pea aphid is a breakthrough for ecology and agricultural research
5. French and Spanish researchers develop a natural alternative to antibiotics in animal feed
6. March of Dimes provides $2.6 million in new funding for preterm birth research
7. Pitt researchers report internal and environmental factors trigger unique brain activity in teens
8. Stacking traits in algae is focus of grant to Iowa State University researcher
9. AADR awards 2010 Neal W. Chilton Fellowship in Clinical Research to Dolphus Dawson, III
10. Understanding global climate change through new breakthroughs in polar research
11. UCR researcher identifies mechanism malaria parasite uses to spread among red blood cells
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:3/15/2016)... York , March 15, 2016 ... market report published by Transparency Market Research "Digital Door Lock ... and Forecast 2015 - 2023," the global digital door lock ... 731.9 Mn in 2014 and is forecast to grow at ... Growth of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) across the ...
(Date:3/11/2016)... http://www.apimages.com ) - --> http://www.apimages.com ) - ... Images ( http://www.apimages.com ) - Germany . ... new refugee identity cards. DERMALOG will be unveiling this device, and ... Hanover next week.   --> Germany ... the new refugee identity cards. DERMALOG will be unveiling this device, ...
(Date:3/9/2016)... NEW YORK , March 9, 2016 ... current and future states of the RNA Sequencing (RNA ... in segments such as instruments, tools and reagents, data ... Analyze various segments of the RNA-Sequencing market such ... RNA-Sequencing services Identify the main factors affecting each segment ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:5/4/2016)... ... May 04, 2016 , ... PBI-Gordon Corporation is pleased to announce Doug Obermann ... began his career at PBI-Gordon in February 1988, after finishing his masters in agronomy ... ranging from customer service to national product manager, to helping develop, name and launch ...
(Date:5/3/2016)... ... 03, 2016 , ... In a list published by the Boston Business Journal, ... private companies; a small percentage of the state's 615,000+ small businesses. The list examined ... in revenue from 2012 to 2015. , As this award comes on ...
(Date:5/3/2016)... ... May 03, 2016 , ... Wearable Tech + Digital ... will take place on June 7-8, 2016, at the New York Academy of Sciences.  ... technology -- including AR/VR, machine learning, apps, robotics and AI -- throughout a major ...
(Date:5/3/2016)... ... May 03, 2016 , ... ... clinics and IVF laboratories. A contingency of reproductive endocrinologists, including Dr. George ... women experiencing infertility and to help them build families. , Ovation Fertility is ...
Breaking Biology Technology: