- All 26 remaining sturgeon and paddlefish species are threatened with extinction according to today’s IUCN Red List update, which confirmed the extinction of the Chinese paddlefish and the extinction in the wild of the Yangtze sturgeon as well as raising the threat level for seven other species across the globe
The new assessment carried out by members of the IUCN Sturgeon Specialist Group (SSG) found that almost 2/3rds of sturgeon and paddlefish species are Critically Endangered – underlining their claim to be the world’s most threatened group of species. It highlights the continuing loss of freshwater biodiversity and degradation of rivers across the globe, which are essential to people and nature.
“The world’s failure to safeguard sturgeon species is an indictment of governments across the globe, who are failing to sustainably manage their rivers and live up to their commitments to conserve these iconic fish and halt the global loss of nature,” said Arne Ludwig, Chair of the IUCN Sturgeon Specialist Group. “These shocking – but sadly not surprising – assessments mean that sturgeon retain their unwanted title as the world’s most threatened group of species.”
|Despite ambitious policies to protect sturgeon species in Europe, including the Pan-European Action Plan for Sturgeons accepted by the Bern Convention and the EU Habitats Directive, the status of sturgeons continues to worsen across the continent. Seven of the eight European species were already listed as Critically Endangered. Now the sterlet, the smallest, purely freshwater sturgeon, has been moved to a higher threat category – and is officially classified as Endangered.
One species, the ship sturgeon, has now been declared extinct in the Danube, the species’ last refuge in the EU, marking the rare extinction of a species protected under the EU Habitats Directive to completely disappear from EU territory. In fact after the Birds and Habitats Directives entered into force in 1979 and 1992, so far only one bird species and one ibex subspecies had gone extinct in the EU – until now.
From initially six sturgeon species in the Danube, only four remain in the Green Heart of Europe. Yet the Danube is one of the last rivers in Europe where sturgeon spawn naturally.
“Sturgeon species are bound up with our culture and cuisine. For centuries, they sustained fishing communities across the continent, but now their future in Europe hangs by a thread,” said Beate Striebel-Greiter, WWF Lead Global Sturgeon Initiative.
“The loss of the ship sturgeon from the Danube demonstrates the urgency to implement the Pan-European Action Plan for Sturgeons, including measures to ensure upstream and downstream
migration,” added Striebel-Greiter. “There are no excuses for the current lack of action and no one else to blame: if governments across Europe, in particular the Danube states, and EU institutions do not act now to restore river connectivity and protect and restore sturgeon habitats in key rivers, the extinction of more sturgeon species will be on their hands.”
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accompanied by: Srdjan Acanski, B.Sc.
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