Photo by Jessy Dou. Used with permission.

Threats and Conservation Acts

The threats against Huso huso are many, and they are also quite serious. This species has been listed as critically endangered by The ICUN Red List. This rating is the last rating an organism is given before it is completely extinct in the wild. With a continually decreasing population trend, action must be taken, and enforced in order for the species to be saved.

Beluga Caviar. Public domain. Used with permission.Humans are the number one cause of the beluga sturgeon population decrease. The most obvious reason for the steep population decrease is the demand for beluga caviar. The eggs from beluga are so highly prized that these animals are not only fished legally, but also poached. Fishing quotas have remained the same regardless the fact that the sturgeons are not found nearly as frequently in the wild as there once were. Another factor contributing to the endangerment of sturgeons is the damming of spawning grounds. Many rivers that were once the breeding grounds for sturgeon have now been dammed, changing the currents, river levels, and the distance that these fish are able to migrate. Lastly, a factor that has not necessarily been proven to kill off sturgeon, is the use of pesticides on grounds surrounding the beluga habitat. These pesticides, in high densities, have the potential to kill the organisms that H. huso, and its prey, feed on.

Humans are not all bad though. Although we may have caused serious damage to numerous sturgeon populations, such as the Persian Sturgeon, we have also worked to build back the population. Restocking efforts are in place where farms breed mass amounts of beluga sturgeon, raise them in captivity until they are yearlings, and then release them into the wild. This has caused numbers to decrease less quickly, but all of the same factors affect the sturgeon that are bred in captivity as those that are bred in the wild. Some say that there are no "true" beluga in the wild anymore and that they all have some amount of stock sturgeon in their blood. Some countries have also taken action to save these sturgeon by no longer allowing the importing of endangered species. This has cut down the number of species that are being sold commercially though poaching still remains an issue.

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