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The Rioni river is the last functioning sturgeon spawning river in Georgia and eastern part of the Black Sea basin.

© WWF Caucasus
Strengthening Sturgeon Conservation in Georgia

Sturgeons are among the oldest species in existence and were present during the age of dinosaurs. Today, these species are on the brink of extinction mainly due to overfishing, poaching, habitat loss and degradation, and pollution. Sturgeons are considered one of the most endangered species on Earth and they are a priority species for WWF's global conservation programmes. 
 
Today, the survival of wild sturgeon populations depends on the protection of the last functional sturgeon spawning rivers. Georgia’s Rioni River still holds large populations of sturgeon and it is the last functioning sturgeon spawning river in the eastern part of the Black Sea basin. The Rioni River ecosystem is an area of high importance for the national and global survival of sturgeons and this means that Georgia has a global responsibility for sturgeon conservation.
 
The following six sturgeon species have historically been widespread in Georgia and are all listed as critically endangered by the IUCN: Beluga (Huso huso), Russian sturgeon (Acipenser gueldenstaedtii), Stellate sturgeon (Acipenser stellatus), Ship sturgeon (Acipenser nudiventris), European/Atlantic sturgeon (Acipenser sturio), Colchic sturgeon (Acipenser persicus colchicus).
 

The Rioni River for Saving The Sturgeon


Field trials in the Rioni River

 

In 2018, WWF-Caucasus conducted successful field-trials for a new research methodology using the integration of acoustic telemetry and high-resolution side-scan sonar. This methodology has since been used for research and continues to contribute to the conservation and recovery efforts for globally and nationally threatened sturgeon species in Georgia.

 

Working with local schools

 

WWF-Caucasus works to raise awareness about sturgeon conservation among local communities and educational programs for schoolchildren were conducted at local schools in 9 villages in Georgia’s Poti, Khobi and Samtredia municipalities. Children from grades 9-11 received information about the importance of saving the various species of sturgeon in Georgia and in the Rioni River specifically.

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