Saving Sturgeon from Human Appetites
For immediate release: Monday, August 27, 2012
Contact: Taylor Jones, WildEarth Guardians, 303-353-1490
Lee Hall, Friends of Animals
Five species of sturgeon to be reviewed for listing under the Endangered Species Act
Washington, D.C. — The National Marine Fisheries Service (Fisheries) announced today that it will review five species of sturgeon for potential listing under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). WildEarth Guardians and Friends of Animals submitted a petition to list fifteen foreign sturgeon species on March 8, 2012. Ten of those species were assigned to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, where they are awaiting their own preliminary petition finding. Fisheries’ announcement today begins a 12-month status review for the other five species.
“Sturgeon belong to an ancient lineage that has persisted for 200 million years, but they may not survive the onslaught of the human appetite,” said Taylor Jones, Endangered Species Advocate for WildEarth Guardians. “These incredible creatures can live to be a century old. We must stop viewing them as a commodity if they are to survive.”
Sturgeon communities around the world are threatened by exploitation for meat and caviar, which has devastated their populations. Dam construction has blocked access to many of their spawning grounds. Pollution is also a threat to many species.
“The situation is bleak for sturgeon communities worldwide,” said Lee Hall, Vice President of Legal Affairs for Friends of Animals. “Some experts suggest their only chance for survival might be in captivity. We find that future unacceptable.”
The five species that Fisheries will consider for listing are Adriatic sturgeon (Acipenser naccarii), Atlantic sturgeon (or Baltic sturgeon or common sturgeon, as it is also known) (A. sturio), Chinese sturgeon (A. sinensis), Sakhalin sturgeon (A. mikadoi), and Kaluga sturgeon (Huso dauricus). These species range from Western Europe to the Sea of Japan.
Acipenser sturio (Baltic sturgeon) can grow to 16 feet in length. Fished aggressively for caviar, they have been reduced to a single reproductive population in the Garonne River in France.
Olive-hued Acipenser naccarii (Adriatic sturgeon) once ranged throughout the Adriatic from Italy to Greece. Their numbers have declined from exploitation for their flesh. Currently only about 250 individuals remain in the wild population.
The massive Acipenser sinensis (Chinese sturgeon) can reach over 10 feet in length. They were deemed a major commercial resource in the 1960s. Only 203—257 spawning individuals remain.
Acipenser mikadoi (Sakhalin sturgeon) can grow to 8 feet in length and were historically common in Japanese markets; now, only 10-30 spawning adults survive.
Native to China and Russia, Huso dauricus (Kaluga or Great Siberian sturgeon) are among the world’s largest freshwater fishes, exceeding 18 feet in length and one ton in weight. They are heavily poached for caviar and have declined an estimated 80 percent since the nineteenth century.
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