PROJEKT: Implementation of the river basin management plan in selected river sub-basins in Slovakia


On Wednesday, June 14, 2023, a total of 20,000 small sturgeon juveniles were released into the Danube as part of the LIFE Living Rivers project. Sturgeons were released in three localities of their natural habitat – below the Čunovo dam, near the village of Sap and on Veľkololéský ostrov. Direct release of sturgeon fry into our rivers is one of the tools to strengthen the populations of this endangered fish species.

Due to the negative, human-induced changes in the morphology of our rivers, their damming, which led to the dammage of fish migrations, the impact of the deterioration of water quality and the clogging of original spawning grounds with sediment, and also due to poaching and excessive hunting for caviar, the status of sturgeon fish worldwide has decreased to historical minimum levels. Several species have become irretrievably extinct, the populations of others are threatened. Sturgeons thus became the object of strong protection and the object of many international conventions – e.g. of the Ramsar Convention, the Bonn Convention or the Berne Convention, which gave rise to a currently very relevant document, the Pan-European Sturgeon Action Plan (PANEAP) valid for the period 2019-2029.

Despite conservation efforts, these prehistoric, many hundreds of million-year-old species of fish are disappearing from our rivers even today. This also applies to the Slovak section of the Danube, where only one of the original five species is found today – the small sturgeon. According to the criteria of the World Conservation Organization (IUCN), it is classified as a globally threatened animal species. Small sturgeon is also the flagship species of the Danube River and is the focus of many organizations across Europe.

“From now on, the activity of releasing juveniles of these fish will take place every two years, between 2023 and 2029. It will be complemented by other activities, such as regular ichthyological surveys, incubation of fertilized sturgeon eggs directly in the Danube, or telemetric monitoring of sturgeon behavior,” says Katarína Mravcová, project manager of the LIFE Living Rivers project.

“With this type of fish, it is very important to observe how big a problem for their life and especially migration is the presence of obstacles in the flow (Čunovo dam, Gabčíkovo reservoir, Dunakiliti dam), or where they like to breed, winter or look for food,” says Bořek Drozd from the Faculty of Fisheries and Water Protection from the University of South Bohemia in České Budejovice, which is a partner of the LIFE Living Rivers project. All activities to protect and strengthen the sturgeon population will take place under the leadership of this university.

One of the goals of the ambitious integrated project LIFE Living Rivers (101069837-LIFE21-IPE-SK-LIFE Living Rivers) is to reverse the unfortunate trend in the development of sturgeon populations in the Danube by means of active measures. The strengthening of these populations is supported precisely by releasing new stocks directly into the river. Although young sturgeons are propagated by humans, they are genetically pure stocks of small sturgeon.

The LIFE Living Rivers project is a joint project of 10 institutions and organizations that have joined together with the aim of protecting the fulfillment of the EU Water Directive and revitalizing our rivers and basins to a state close to nature.

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