German Anglers Association, Weiβenseer Weg 110 D-10369 Berlin, Germany
STEFFENS, W., 2008. Significance of aquaculture for the conservation and restoration of sturgeon populations. Bulg. J. Agric. Sci., 14: 155-164
Sturgeons (family Acipenseridae), endemic in Eurasia and North America, are mostly fast-growing, long-lived migratory anadromous fish species of high ecological and economic value. They reach maturity often at high age. Most of their stocks have declined considerably during the last years. Main causes are over-exploitation, river regulations (damming) and deterioration of water quality (pollution). Several species are highly endangered, facing the risk of extinction. Besides national and international measures for improving the environment and for establishing management programmes aquaculture is of decisive importance for the conservation and restoration of sturgeon populations. First essential bases of sturgeon aquaculture by means of hypophysation were elaborated and introduced into practice already in the first half of the last century by N. L. Gerbilskij (1900-1967). Sturgeon farming has two tasks. Firstly it is necessary to produce fingerlings suited for stocking natural waters. By this means it is possible to support or even enhance the populations. Secondly sturgeon meat and caviar can be produced for the market. This substantially contributes to reduce the fishing pressure to natural stocks of sturgeons. Aquaculture of sturgeons comprises the following steps: establishment of brood stocks, propagation, incubation of eggs, rearing of fry and fingerlings, production of marketable fish, processing of meat and caviar. To improve technology and procedures for sturgeon aquaculture extensive scientific research mainly in the field of genetics, reproductive physiology, nutrition and feed manufacturing as well as prevention of diseases but also economics and marketing is required. Without aquaculture and international cooperation sturgeon species in natural waters cannot be saved.