50 telemetrically marked Atlantic sturgeon released into Narva River on 12.11

This week, 50 specially marked sturgeon were released into the Narva River on the initiative of Wildlife Estonia. Their journey will be closely monitored by the organisation’s scientist with complex technology. The young sturgeon, which weigh about 400 grams, were grown in the Põlula fish farm of the State Forest Management Centre (RMK).

“Releasing the protected sturgeon into the Narva River is an important activity in the recovery of the sturgeon population in Estonian waters and the Baltic Sea,” said Secretary General of the Ministry of the Environment Meelis Münt. “Although the number of fish grown and released into the Narva River in recent years is remarkable, these sturgeon are special because we can actually monitor how they cope with the life in the river.” He added that a lot of local anglers had come to witness the release of the sturgeon, had strongly supported the action and hoped for the return of a time when the river was rich in these fish.

The sturgeon disappeared from the Baltic Sea primarily due to the damming of rivers, pollution and overfishing. The Baltic Sea countries have decided to recover the sturgeon population. The international plan for recovery of the Atlantic sturgeon population sets forth the release of the sturgeon to the rivers used as habitats by this species in the past, including the Narva River. The sturgeon stocking project is led in Estonia by the NGO Wildlife Estonia, which has thoroughly studied the lower reaches of the Narva river as a habitat of fish and its suitability for the restocking of the sturgeon.

Ichthyologist Meelis Tambets of Wildlife Estonia said, “We’re planning to stock the sturgeon for several years in a row. This activity will take place in accordance with the pan-Baltic Sea sturgeon action plan. We stock the fish to create sufficiently strong first generations of spawners. Our mission is completed when the sturgeon start coming to their home river to spawn and breed, and cope here.”

The Atlantic sturgeon were grown until ready for stocking at the Põlula fish farm of the RMK. Its manager Kunnar Klaas said that the sturgeon used to be an important object of fishing in the Baltic Sea. “This fish mostly spends its growth period in the sea but spawns in rivers, which in the case of Estonia is the Narva River. Their natural population in the Baltic Sea has perished by now and recovery has been launched. The first attempts to breed the fish have indicated that we can continue with our efforts to breed and stock them,” added Klaas.

Sturgeon larvae have been brought to Estonia from Germany with the help of Wildlife Estonia in the last three summers. Some of them have been immediately released into the Narva River, while others have been bred further at Põlula. The sturgeons are prospering at the fish farm, and the 20 mg larvae grow into 5-15 gram young fish by the end of the summer. Approximately 8000 sturgeon have been taken from Põlula to the Narva River in the last two years.

The sturgeon stocking project is supported by the Environmental Investment Centre and the State Forest Management Centre.

In addition to the sturgeon with special marking released this week, the RMK bred 3000 sturgeon of different ages at the Põlula fish farm, which were also released into the Narva River. Salmon, whitefish and trout were also bred in addition to the sturgeon, 200,000 fish in total, and were released into the Purtse, Pärnu, Kohtla and Valgejõgi rivers in autumn.

Photos of the release of the marked sturgeon can be viewed HERE.

Further information:
Kadri Kauksi
Ministry of the Environment
Public Relations Department
5623 8831

Kunnar Klaas
Põlula Fish Farm of the RMK
527 8245

Meelis Tambets
Wildlife Estonia
517 6886