During its Workshop for the development of a recovery plan for sturgeon on the British Isles, which took place at the Zoological Society of London (ZSL), on October 11th and 12th 2022, the UK Sturgeon Alliance (https://www.savethesturgeon.com/), a network comprising among others the ZSL, the Institute for Fisheries Management, Blue Marine Foundation and the Severn Rivers Trust, decided to join WSCS to increase its international integration.
The workshop focused on a summary of the current knowledge on the distribution of sturgeon on the British Isles which the Alliance has reconstructed mainly by the rigorous screening of newspaper articles and museum findings. Following the first attempts to identify potential habitats for the species in rivers that historically have revealed regular sturgeon migration, the Alliance discussed its strategy towards the future of the sturgeons in Great Britain and beyond. For this discussion WSCS members Eric Rochard and Jörn Gessner were invited to participate in the workshop to provide experiences from the recovery projects in France and Germany of the future plans.
In an initial attempt, the Alliance will focus on in situ protection, safeguarding of sturgeons that do show up in the fishery and running information campaigns to ensure compliance in the protection and release of the fish. In parallel, the protection of habitats in coastal waters such as the potential inclusion in the list of qualifying features species for Natura 2000 sites and the identification of aggregation areas will be high up on the agenda.
A decision whether to actively support the reestablishment of populations in British waters will be taken in the future using the IUCN SSC Conservation Translocation Specialist Group – Structured Decision-Making process and based upon the experiences with the current activities.