The Institute has recently joined the UK Sturgeon Alliance along with BLUE, Severn Rivers Trust, Zoological Society of London and Nature at Work.

The Alliance exists to:

  • ensure that UK rivers and estuaries are in fit state to accommodate critically endangered European sturgeon;
  • restore suitable sturgeon spawning and feeding habitats;
  • improve connectivity of estuary and river habitats to enable fish migration;
  • protect European sturgeon in UK waters;
  • prevent non-native sturgeon originating from the pet trade from escaping into the wild;
  • increase public awareness and pride of UK sturgeon; and
  • explore ways under IUCN Reintroduction Protocol to restore sturgeon numbers in the UK.

By Rory moore of the Blue Marine Foundation

Rory Moore, BLUE’s Head of International Projects, discusses the decline of the sturgeon – the “king of anadromous fish” – in the UK and what BLUE is doing to bring it back.

This is an exert from the full article.

The largest ever fish caught by rod and line in a UK river was a giant 414-pound sturgeon, caught in 1903 on the river Severn. A few years later in 1911, another sturgeon was caught in the river Frome, a nine-foot monster of a fish. Throughout the 18th and 19th centuries, around 400 sturgeon were reported by anglers in the Severn, Wye, Usk, Thames, Medway, Towi, Teme, Tay, Forth, Tweed, Trent, Dee and Annan to name but a few rivers. The catches were always considered surprising. This was understandable, given that sturgeon are considered by the IUCN to be the most critically endangered group of species on the planet. In January of just this year the Chinese paddlefish, a close cousin of the sturgeon, was declared extinct.

However, the state of the sturgeon population was not always this poor. The European sturgeon or common sea sturgeon, which is native to UK waters, was once one of the most widespread sturgeon species, migrating up rivers throughout Europe in great schools to spawn. Most sturgeon are anadromous, meaning they live much of their lives in saltwater, but migrate up freshwater rivers to spawn. This 400 million-year-old prehistoric marvel of nature was considered so important that it was granted ‘royal’ status by Edward XI in the 14thcentury. A decree still exists that any UK captured sturgeon should be offered to the Crown. The sturgeon is the king of anadromous fish.

Major Radclyffe (right) and his Gillie with the 230lbs sturgeon, caught by the Major near Bindon Abbey. One of largest fish ever caught in fresh water in England. Credit: By kind permission of The Dorset County Museum. © DCM

The full article can be read here