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GLIN==> Fisheries Experts to Launch World Sturgeon Conservation Society



Posted on behalf of Jill Ladwig <jill@seagrant.wisc.edu>

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NEWS RELEASE

For More Information:

Fred Binkowski, UW Great Lakes WATER Institute, (414) 382-1723
Harald Rosenthal, University of Kiel, Germany, (011) 49-40-700-6514
Stephen Wittman, UW Sea Grant, Program Information Specialist, (608)
263-5371


Fisheries Experts to Launch World Sturgeon Conservation Society

HAMBURG, Germany (March 10, 2003) - While much of the world is in
conflict, scientists from Asia, Europe and the United States are joining
together to save an ancient fish from extinction.  The group convenes
March 10-12 in Hamburg, Germany, to launch an international nonprofit
organization dedicated to saving and enhancing sturgeon stocks
worldwide.

Sturgeon are among the oldest fishes in the world, swimming in lakes and
rivers since dinosaurs roamed the shores. The fish are prized for their
delicate flesh and world-famous caviar.  Once abundant in lakes and
rivers throughout the Northern Hemisphere, sturgeon stocks have
plummeted, mostly due to over-harvest and severe habitat changes over
the last century.

Fred Binkowski, senior scientist at the University of
Wisconsin-Milwaukee; Ron Bruch, sturgeon biologist with the Wisconsin
Department of Natural Resources (WDNR); and Serge Doroshov, professor of
animal science at the University of California-Davis will join
researchers from Germany, Italy, France, Russia, China and Iran in
formally launching the World Sturgeon Conservation Society.

"Sturgeon scientists, researchers, fishermen, aquaculturalists and
conservationists have a common goal, which is to ensure the survival of
sturgeon worldwide," said Binkowski, aquaculture specialist with the UW
Sea Grant Institute. "Our vision for this society is to see stocks
thriving again in important sturgeon waters like the Caspian Sea and the
Great Lakes region of the United States."

Research and management activities have intensified since the 1970s in
efforts to stem eradication of sturgeon in the Caspian Sea and other
areas, and to restore sturgeon in areas such as the Great Lakes region
in the United States and European waterways, according to Binkowski.

With the price of North American caviar as high as $800 a pint and
Russian black caviar at $1,200 a pint, coupled with the collapse of
sturgeon fisheries worldwide, the market is also susceptible to illegal
trade.

"Formation of the World Sturgeon Conservation Society is a vital step
toward the future of sturgeon management and restoration," Bruch said.

The society will facilitate the international information exchange
needed to address the problems facing sturgeon around the world:
especially over-harvesting, illegal poaching and habitat destruction,
according to Bruch.

"Most of the world's fisheries are 'straddling stocks' that cross
international borders," said Harald Rosenthal, professor of fisheries
biology and aquaculture at the University of Kiel in Germany. "This new
society provides a platform on which we can build consensus and
continuity, and focus on strategic rather than short-term,
problem-solving research."

"As living fossils, sturgeon have enormous value for science and
biodiversity on our planet," said Doroshov. "We hope this new society
will enhance international collaboration in research, protection and
aquaculture of sturgeon."

The idea for the World Sturgeon Conservation Society grew out of an
international sturgeon symposium held in Wisconsin in July 2001,
cosponsored by the UW Sea Grant Institute and the WDNR. The symposium
drew more than 400 scientists and focused on the state's successful
management of its lake sturgeon fishery.

In addition to facilitating the flow of information, the society will
seek to raise public awareness of the plight of this ancient fish. It
also will promote the sponsorship of interdisciplinary and
multidisciplinary research on all aspects sturgeon biology and
management on a world-wide basis and support better cooperation between
fishermen, natural scientists, governmental agencies and local
communities.

#

Created in 1966, Sea Grant is a national network of 30 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 Commerce.

www.seagrant.wisc.edu

Jill D. Ladwig
Editor
UW Aquatic Sciences Center
(608) 262-6393


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