Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Highly Endangered Sturgeon Need Protection

Time Is of the Essence

Baltic sturgeon
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Friends of Animals and WildEarth Guardians are working hard to ensure protection for the members of 15 species of sturgeon at the very brink of annihilation. In addition to having to cope with treacherous dams, run-off from animal farms, and marine dead zones, they’re threatened with the trade of their eggs as caviar and their flesh as meat, and their bladders are used to make isinglass, a filter applied in the processing of certain cask ales and wines. Aquaculture also threatens them, as it sustains demand, and motivates further capture of free-living sturgeon.

We cannot emphasize enough the risk to these populations and communities! Some are still in the hundreds, but others are down to a few dozen breeding pairs, or even just a few individual representatives such as the up-to 8’ long Acipenser mikadoi (Sakhalin sturgeon) found in waters around Japan--estimated to have only 10-30 breeding pairs left.

Sign Our Petition

Right now we are targeting Amazon.ca and Amazon.com, which enable the sale of caviar from many of these species. Amazon has traditionally responded well to environmental issues, and we hope to see that continued, and that they help preserve these fishes.
Spare the sturgeon by enjoying vegan offerings, whether it’s beer or caviar you’re into! For the beer, check out: Barnivore.com 
And even if you thought caviar was unappealing, you might just love CaviArt: http://www.friendsofanimals.org/img/vegan/Caviart.pdf
Inspired to act? Here’s a plan.
ACTION 1: Please visit and sign our petition to Jeff Bezos, president of Amazon:http://www.change.org/petitions/halt-amazon-com-sales-of-caviar-from-imperiled-sturgeon-species

ACTION 2: Let’s get the sturgeon bladders out of our beer and wine. Pledge and sign:
Thorn sturgeon
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A Brief History of Sturgeon

Sturgeon have always swum primarily in relatively shallow freshwater or coastal areas. Notably, these massive fish are not particularly predatory; they are bottom feeders, and do not have teeth. Their long life spans (often more than 100 years) and slow maturation contribute to their vulnerability. Two hundred million years of evolution has not prepared them for the efficiency of human consumption, which has vacuumed most of the life out of the ocean in a few hundred years. We’re barely a blip on the scale of their timeline, yet our industry is a catastrophic blow to their existence.

Conservation Efforts

Friends of Animals and WildEarth Guardians are petitioning the US National Marine Fisheries Service to protect fifteen sturgeon species as “threatened” or “endangered” under the US Endangered Species Act (ESA). Sturgeon are described by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as the most threatened group of animals on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Sturgeon are covered under CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora), yet are still being traded and smuggled at significant levels. Much more needs to be done to protect sturgeon, and ensure these populations remain and—we hope—thrive.

Sturgeon of Western Europe
(1) The olive-hued Acipenser naccarii (Adriatic sturgeon) once ranged throughout the Adriatic from Italy to Greece. Their numbers have declined from exploitation for their flesh. Currently only about 250 individuals remain in the wild population.
(2) Acipenser sturio (Baltic sturgeon) can grow to 16 feet in length. Poached aggressively for caviar, they have been reduced to a single reproductive population in the Garonne River in France.

The Caspian Sea, Black Sea, and Sea of Azov: the Heart of the Caviar Trade
(3) The olive-grey Acipenser gueldenstaedtii (Russian sturgeon; also known as Azov-Black Sea or Danube sturgeon) and (4) Acipenser nudiventris (Ship, Spiny, or Thorn sturgeon) have been commercially exploited and caught as by-catch, and are likely on the verge of extinction.
(5) Acipenser persicus (Persian sturgeon) are exploited for caviar and suffer habitat loss from dams and pollution.
(6) Populations of Acipenser stellatus (Star sturgeon) have been devastated by legal and illegal exploitation for meat and caviar. The Black Sea population is so depleted that commercial catch was halted in 2006.

Sturgeon of the Aral Sea and Tributaries
Three sturgeon species, (7) Pseudoscaphirhynchus fedtschenkoi, (8) Pseudoscaphirhynchus hermanni, and (9) Pseudoscaphirhynchu kaufmanni, have declined or disappeared along with the Aral Sea, which shrunk by more than 60 percent from 1973 to 2000 and continues to shrink. Dangerous heavy metals and agricultural run-off also threaten these populations.

Sturgeon of the Amur River Basin, Sea of Japan, Yangtze River, and Sea of Okhotsk
(10) Acipenser mikadoi (Sakhalin sturgeon) can grow to 8 feet in length and were historically common in Japanese markets; now, only 10-30 spawning adults survive.
Increasing pollution from Russian and Chinese agriculture is threatening (11) Acipenser schrenckii (Amur sturgeon), which have declined an estimated 95 percent.
Also native to China and Russia, (12) Huso dauricus (Kaluga or Great Siberian sturgeon) are among the world’s largest freshwater fishes, exceeding 18 feet in length and one ton in weight. They are heavily poached for caviar.
(13) Acipenser baerii (Siberian sturgeon) are taken for caviar and have lost nearly half their spawning habitat from dam construction.
(14) Acipenser dabryanus, (Yangtze sturgeon) may only survive due to stocking, and there is no evidence that stocked animals are reproducing naturally.
The massive (15) Acipenser sinensis (Chinese sturgeon) were deemed a major commercial resource in the 1960s. Less than 300 wild individuals remain.

Dave Shishkoff
Canadian Correspondent
Friends of Animals
Web Site: http://FriendsofAnimals.org
Victoria: http://TheVictoriaVegan.com
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Twitter: http://Twitter.com/FoA_Victoria
FoA Vegan Starter Guide PDF: http://bit.ly/foa-vsg

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