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Премия рунета 2017

Sturgeons and the causes of their extinction

Sturgeon fishes belong to the most ancient lineage of fish species. Sturgeons are found in the fossils since the Cretaceous period (85.8 - 70.6 million years ago). These unique fish, coevals of dinosaurs, have preserved to present day many features of the most ancient fish– cartilaginous skeleton and almost complete absence of scales, characteristic for most modern fish.

Sturgeons have a fairly long lifespan, comparable to the average life expectancy of a human. Adult individuals reach sexual maturity quite late. Reproductive capacity of sturgeon caviar is very low. In the past, in the absence of active commercial fishing sturgeon fish were quite common. This is supported by archaeological excavations. They inhibited almost all major European basins and even in the Moscow river basin. It is known for certain that in the VI century belugas up to 6 meters long and sturgeons up to 2 meters long were caught in the Moscow River.

The peak of the sturgeon fishery in the Caspian basin was at the time of river fishing from the 16th to the 10th century. At that time, catches of sturgeon reached 50 thousand tons. For many decades, sturgeon stocks in the Caspian Sea and their fisheries accounted for more than 90% of the world figures. Catches of sturgeon fish experienced significant fluctuations throughout the history of Caspian fisheries that depend on the level of reproduction and intensity of the fishery.

However, the high gastronomic qualities of sturgeon, the rapid development of hydropower, industrial and illegal fishing have led to the situation where by the end of the XX century sturgeons were qualified as endangered species. All countries of the Caspian basin agreed to ban commercial fishing of sturgeon since 2014 to stop their extinction.

It turns out that the black caviar, the price of which many people today consider too high, is actually priceless. Its price is the preservation of the species.