European sturgeon: raising awareness among the fishery world

The European sturgeon (Acipenser sturio) is an anadromous species, highly endangered and strictly protected in French and EU waters.

Within the context of the National Plan 2011-2015 dedicated to it, actions are underway to protect and sustain the wild population stocks and to preserve its aquatic habitats. The mobilization of fishermen is a key-factor of its success, and the CNPMEM, since 2006, coordinates the work of informing and raising awareness among the fishery world regarding risks related to accidental catches of this fish.

Situation and status of the species

The European sturgeon, wild migratory fish of the North-East of the Atlantic Ocean spends most of its life cycle in the sea. Abundant in the past by the shore and in the largest European rivers, it only remains one unique and fragile population living in shallow waters located between the south of the Bay of Biscay and the Scandinavian coastline. This late maturity species is now one of the most endangered in Europe. Capture, transport…, commercialization or even the sale of a European sturgeon is strictly prohibited in France since 1982.

Contribution of the fishery world

Despite in Europe there are no commercial exploitations of that fish since 1982, the risk of mortality by incidental catches in rivers, estuaries and seas remains and represents one of the very first threats for the species. In a large majority, sturgeons are still alive when brought on board and discovered by fishermen. They must be released, whatever their state, and declared. The future of this species may depend on the fishermen awareness. Beyond the citizen gesture, the mobilization of fishermen through such a preservation program empowers their role of aquatic environment sentries. Their action contributes to a responsible fishery. Information declared, as they often are the only witnesses, are essential and contribute to outline the situation of the population and the knowledge of the European sturgeon ecology.

The CNPMEM, partner of this national and community-scaled challenge

Involved in this approach since 2006, the CNPMEM is one of the main partners of the National Action Plan 2011-2015 in favor of the European sturgeon, coordinated by the DREAL Aquitaine and steered by the association MIGADO. The CNPMEM is informing the professional and recreational fishermen concerned, but also every actor of their professional and social environments likely to convey the information, that the European sturgeon has the status of protected species and that instructions to follow exist in case of a capture.

In this way, the CNPMEM has, since 2006, created many communication supports (brochure, poster, sticker, video documentary, website, etc.). This work is currently conducted on French Atlantic, Channel and North Sea coastlines with the support of the Institut des Milieux Aquatiques and the financial support of the Agence de l’Eau Adour-Garonne and the MEDDE, to maintain the efforts after the positive first results of the plan.

In fact, since 2007, about 2 millions of juveniles born from artificial reproductions have been released in the wild environment and their spreading all along the coastline, from the Bay of Biscay to the Channel, have been testified. In 2012 and 2013, over 550 accidental catch declarations have been registered and followed-up in France. Thanks to the mobilization of the fishery world and the repopulating efforts engaged, there is a new hope of a reborn of the largest migratory fish in Western Europe.

To learn more, go to the official website of the National Action Plan 2011-2015 in favor of the European sturgeon and download the 2014 brochure and 2014 poster

Mis à jour le 27 March 2015