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For More Information:
Ron Bruch, fisheries biologist, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources
(920) 424-3059
Fred Binkowski, UW Sea Grant aquaculture specialist (414) 382-1723

Editors:  Credential your reporters and photogs in advance.  Here is how:
Web: http://www.sturgeonsymposium.org/reg_application.htm
(see web instructions below)
Phone:  Kendall Kamke at 920-424-7880
On-Site:  Get credentials at symposium registration table


OSHKOSH, Wis. (7/5/01) --  More than 375 leading scientists from 23
countries will converge on this small Wisconsin town next week to share the
latest research on the world's sturgeon populations and see firsthand why
the numbers of Lake Winnebago's sturgeon have quadrupled in the last 40
years while populations of this ancient fish have collapsed in many other
The 4th International Symposium on Sturgeon runs July 8-13 at the Park Plaza
International Hotel and Conference Center in downtown Oshkosh. The symposium
will feature scientific presentations and workshops and presentations on law
enforcement and public involvement.  Participants will visit a site on Wolf
River where state fisheries biologists will use electrofishing boats to
bring lake sturgeon to the water's surface to be netted, tagged and
measured; the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Great Lakes WATER Institute,
a laboratory that studies sturgeon; and the Menominee Indian Reservation,
where symposium participants will learn about the Menominee's' cooperative
effort with state and federal government to restore lake sturgeon to their
tribal waters.
"This symposium provides a forum for leading sturgeon scientists, natural
resource managers and aquaculturists to come together to share information
and learn from one another and from the successful management program we
have here," says Ronald Bruch, a Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources
sturgeon biologist and member of the symposium steering committee. 
Fred Binkowski, University of Wisconsin Sea Grant aquaculture specialist and
another member of the steering committee, said that the symposium will help
set the future course of research and management worldwide for a species
that "desperately needs help in many parts of the world and in our own
Twenty-five different species of sturgeon cruise the waters of the northern
hemisphere, relics from 100 to 200 million years ago that have survived
since the time dinosaurs roamed the earth, Bruch says. Now, many of these
sturgeon species teeter on the brink of collapse in the Caspian Sea, in
Europe, and in some parts of the United States. Poaching, dam-building,
pollution and habitat loss have all taken their toll, Bruch said, with
poaching becoming rampant in some parts of the world. 
"Sturgeon are very good at surviving," Bruch said. "They can survive
drought, climate changes, food shortages. One thing they cannot survive,
though, is overharvest. They're very sensitive to too many of them being
taken out of the population."
Demand is greatest for female sturgeon, which produce the eggs from which
caviar is made. However, females are slow to mature sexually. Lake sturgeon,
for instance, do not spawn until they are 20 to 25 years old and then only
every three or five years, although some other sturgeon species mature
sexually at an earlier age.  
In the Caspian Sea, which supplies 90 percent of the world's best caviar,
poaching has flourished since the Soviet Union broke up in the early 1990s,
and sturgeon stocks have plummeted. The United Nations agency that oversees
trade in endangered species last week rejected a ban on Caspian Sea caviar
proposed by a scientific advisory body but gave the countries bordering the
Caspian until the end of the year to reach an agreement on better managing
sturgeon resources and to conduct a survey of caviar stocks.
A special symposium workshop will be dedicated to law enforcement and trade
issues in different states, provinces and countries and to the treaty that
governs trade in sturgeon and other internationally endangered resources. 
Sponsors of the 4th International Symposium on Sturgeon include Sturgeon for
Tomorrow, the Great Lakes Fishery Trust, the Wisconsin Department of Natural
Resources, the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Great Lakes WATER
Institute, University of Wisconsin Sea Grant Institute, the Menominee Indian
Nation, the University of California-Davis, and RL&L Environmental Services,
Binkowski, also a senior scientist with the WATER Institute, thinks that
symposium participants will be receptive to the management model they'll see
at work in Wisconsin.
 "I think that the majority of them will be going back to their respective
countries with a clear understanding and a better appreciation for
preserving the wild resource and not necessarily putting the emphasis on
commercializing it," says Binkowski, who has conducted sturgeon research at
the WATER Institute for the past 20 years.
Historically, lake sturgeon were found in most of the major rivers systems
in Wisconsin and all of the state's boundary waters, which would include
Lake Michigan, Lake Superior, Green Bay, and the Mississippi River,
Binkowski says.
But lake sturgeon populations were decimated in the late 1800s by commercial
fishermen who regarded the gigantic fish as a nuisance because they tore the
nets used to catch more commercially valuable fish.  Fishermen then realized
lake sturgeon had many uses-for caviar, meat, leather, oil, glue, and a
gelatin that could be used for making jams and jellies and for clarifying
alcoholic beverages-and fished them until their populations plummeted.  
In 1903, Wisconsin began developing regulations to better protect the
population. In 1915, it closed the harvest season and then banned the
commercial sale of sturgeon caviar and flesh.
For the past 70 years, Wisconsin has allowed a limited recreational spearing
season on Lake Winnebago and a brief hook-and-line season for lake sturgeon
populations on the Lower Wisconsin River and on other waters supporting a
self-sustaining population.
"The key to the success story of having the largest and healthiest lake
sturgeon population in the world in Wisconsin has to do with two main
issues," Binkowski said. "Good biological management and good, strong law
enforcement regulation. "
For a longer look at the research, issues and field trips the scientists
will cover in July in Oshkosh, check the symposium website -
For more information about lake sturgeon in Wisconsin and the cooperative
plan to help manage their populations in the future, read the Natural
Resources Magazine's June 2001 issue or view it online:
http://www.dnr.state.wi.us, then click on "Natural Resources Magazine" on
the left hand column. 

# # # #

Created in 1966, Sea Grant is a national network of 29 university-based
programs of research, outreach, and education dedicated to the protection
and sustainable use of the United States' coastal, ocean, and Great Lakes
resources.  The National Sea Grant Network is a partnership of participating
coastal states, private industry, and the National Sea Grant College
Program, National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration, U.S. Department of


How to register on-line
1.	Go to the Sturgeon Symposium web site:
2.	Enter "Mailing Information" and after your institution name please
type "-MEDIA"
3.	Enter "Badge Information"
4.	At "Registration Fees" go to the "Daily" section.  Ignore the
$95.00/day fee.  Instead use the fees listed above for the daily events.
Fees are $45.00 for days that include tours and $20.00 on non-tour days.
Fees include meals and breaks.  Type in total fees.
5.	Badges for the staff you register will be waiting for them at the
registration desk.

For more information see the Sturgeon Symposium website:

     - John

John Karl
Science Writer

University of Wisconsin Sea Grant Institute
1975 Willow Drive
Madison, WI 53706-1103

Phone: (608) 263-8621
FAX: (608) 262-0591

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