IUCN status: Critically endangered
Location: Once very wide-ranging – from the North and (Eastern) north Atlantic and Mediterranean coast of Europe to the Black Sea. The last remaining viable breeding population is in the Garonne River in France.
Size: Up to 6m long and 400kg, males are slightly smaller than females
Habitat: Sturgeon are anadromous – spending part of their life in salt water and returning to rivers to breed.
Main Threats: European sturgeon are also known as Baltic or, ironically, Common sturgeon. Once widespread in Europe, there is now only one population of European sturgeon left in the whole continent. This too is declining. Yet not many people know that the magnificent, pre-historic sturgeon, known for its caviar, is now as endangered as the black rhino.
The adults spawn in freshwater. Juveniles then slowly make their way downstream and reach the estuary of the river of their birth at about 1 year old. They then go to sea after 2-6 years, and alternate movement between the sea while over-wintering in the estuary. For the next 4-6 years, they spend the summer in the estuary and return to the sea during the autumn. Adults stay close to shore in the sea, and are rarely found in waters deeper than 200m.
This species of sturgeon now breeds only in one location, the Garonne River in France, where it last spawned in 1994. Bycatch is the major threat and the extraction of gravel in the Garonne is also a potential threat to the species. Dam construction, pollution and river regulation have led to loss and degradation of spawning sites. The current population size is now between just 20-750 wild, mature individuals. In recent years there has been substantial stocking, but these fish will not reproduce until around 2016.
The sturgeon was an important commercial fish until the beginning of the 20th century when populations crashed. Prior to this, juvenile sturgeon were harvested as animal food in Poland and Germany. The European sturgeon is not the source of the very expensive Beluga caviar. This comes from its relative the Beluga (Siberian) sturgeon, Huso huso, (also classified as critically endangered by the IUCN.)
Under UK law, whales and sturgeons are ‘royal fish’, and when taken become the personal property of the monarch of the United Kingdom, although the Queen rarely accepts sturgeon when they are offered.
“Although called the ‘common sturgeon’ there are now only 20 – 750 mature fish left in the wild…”
The sturgeon is occasionally found in British seas, although most experts believe our fish to be vagrants from other larger European rivers. The Environment Agency will only begin to consider granting a license to reintroduce the fish if it can be established that there were self-sustaining populations of sturgeon in British rivers in the past. Throughout the 19th century there were numerous records of its occurrence far up British rivers, which suggests that spawning may have taken place in the larger British rivers at one time.
Published on Feb 20, 2016
1. The sturgeon was common over 200 years ago in large UK rivers including the Severn, Avon, Ouse, some Scottish rivers and the Thames, with remnants of sturgeon found in the medieval remains of Westminster Abbey.
2. Fossilised sturgeons have been found in deposits dating over 54 million years old. They possess many primitive features, including a heterocercal tail (the spine continuing along the upper lobe), a cartilaginous skeleton, and a spiral valve in the lower intestine.
3. The head is covered with hard bony plates that meet to form visible seams.
4. In September 2013, two boys caught a sturgeon near Pembroke Dock. Steve Colclough, of the Institute of Fisheries Management said, “Where it came from is at present a mystery.” Two months later, the Daily Express reported a Siberian sturgeon caught in the Thames. Steve Colclough explained the fish could possibly be one lost from cages in the Gironde River in France some years ago during a caviar farming experiment. But, he said:
“We think it is more likely to be an escapee from the UK pet trade. These exotic species are imported and this may show that some are now escaping into the wild.”
Published on Feb 20, 2016
The CODEX STAN 291-2010, PARAGRAPH 7.1:-
7.1 NAME OF THE FOOD
7.1.1 For the Acipenseridae family, the name of the food shall be “caviar” or “caviar” completed with the usual name (Beluga for Huso huso, Ossetra for Acipenser guldenstaedtii and Acipenser persicus, Sevruga for Acipenser stellatus), in accordance with the law and custom of the country in which the product is sold, in a manner not to mislead the consumer.
7.1.2 For sturgeons having no common names, the name may be supplemented with the identification code or the scientific name of the species in accordance with Annex A.
7.1.3 For hybrids the common name shall be supplemented with the word hybrid, and the parent sturgeon species may be shown according to Annex A.
It must therefore be noted that said Standard proves to be completely unqualified, incompetent and furthermore, contrary to CODEX’s own assertions, devoid of any scientific evidence. Said Standard is consequently wholly misleading, having neither ever been legislated, be it within the EU and / or any other nation, for that matter. Particular Standard therefore transpires to be a worthless “Draft Standard”.
Princesse d’Isenbourg et Cie Ltd., based in Holland Park, is a world renowned caviar supplier, offering eight different caviars from eight different sturgeon species.
For this evening’s starter they have very kindly donated the world’s rarest caviar, which is from the short-nosed sturgeon, acipenser brevirostrum, of which Princesse d’Isenbourg et Cie is the sole European supplier.
This caviar has the widest colour spectrum, a beguiling flavour and the most creamy taste characteristics.
Uniquely, this particular grain draws a most clear distinction to any other Sturgeon Caviar, and to ensure that all the characteristics of the original flavour are full retained, it will be served in their iconic conical glass jars.
Published on Aug 8, 2015
|Caviar is the roe from the sturgeon, the world’s most valuable fish.
Their naturally protected surroundings have helped them ignore the evolution of millions of years.
The Caspian Sea has remained deep and warm with the sturgeon perhaps our only link to the stimulating, generous tastes and flavours known to our distant ancestors.
Caviar is a capsule of invigorating energy, filled with the proteins, minerals, vitamins and oils essential for life. It is eaten in a completely unmodified natural form, through knowledgeable careful handling and perfect transportation and storage.
Sturgeons are harvested in nature during the spawning seasons of spring and autumn.
Each fish landed is an event in itself. It is numbered and washed before removal of the precious roe. All surfaces are clean and cleansed to ensure absolute purity.
Between the late 80’s and 90’s, Princesse d’Isenbourg et Cie had been awarded the accolade to work directly with “SHILAT”, the official Iranian Fisheries Organisation, and became their sole UK distribution agent for Shilat’s Iranian Caviar.
Only the finest Caviar deserves the Princesse d’Isenbourg label.
Published on Jun 1, 2015
Genus Acipenser constitutes the largest specimen within the Acipenseriformes order, including approximately eighteen of the twenty-seven recognised sturgeon species. The word “Acipenser” translates from Latin to English as “sturgeon.” They are considered “living fossils”, sharing many morphological and biological features with ancestral fish.
Present-Day sturgeons have changed little since pre-historic times, perhaps due to their perseverance and relatively insufficient stimuli for change. Sturgeons have very few natural predators since they can develop into phenomenal sizes. The crustacean species, upon which the sturgeon’s diet depends, have also varied little. The role of the sturgeon in the aquatic ecosystem has been blessed with resilience, and thus been exempted from alterations over millions of years.
Wild Caviar – Glorious Past of the Caspian Sea
For centuries now, sturgeons have been caught and been of the utmost interest from an economic, gastronomic and cultural perspective. To monarchs’ delight, the “Royal Prerogative” guarantees the possession of any caught sturgeons, whilst their delectable Roe (may only be called Caviar after completion of salting process) was championed as the ultimate, fitting luxury for Kings and Queens in those Halcyon Days. Furthermore, the Sturgeon’s Meat, which is customarily cured and smoked, established its gastronomic presence ever since the 18th century and was popularised as “ZAKUSKA” – an elegant array of Russian Hors d’Oeuvres quickly spanning across Western Europe.
Sturgeon’s Legendary Past and Magnificent Present
Traditionally, only two Nations have been major Caviar-Exporters:
The former Soviet Union (USSR) and Iran. Wild sturgeons underwent a dramatic decline and became rare and scarce as early as the beginning of the 20th Century. They were driven to extinction, not because of accidents or their failure to adapt to natural changes but as a result of Intense human interference, such as construction of water dams, restricting the sea’s fresh water input, thus impeding the sturgeon’s migrations. The little remaining water was contaminated by agricultural biocides and industrial wastes. The Caspian Sea’s Pollution, due to oil exploration, further decimates the Sturgeons’ prehistoric habitats. The few surviving adults subsequently face vigorous Over-Fishing and Poaching without the opportunity of a Life-Line to perpetuate. Re-population has thus been severely curtailed with human activities being the major contributory element to the demise of wild sturgeons.
It is of paramount importance and of the utmost urgency to now call for and to develop, engineer and implement strategies for a conservation culture to aid and abet this species’ recovery in their natural habitats.
In short: The sturgeon’s regeneration is our responsibility.
Published on Apr 10, 2015
|Aquaculture Improvement Techniques in natural environments have facilitated the Re-Population of the following sturgeon species:|
This is ‘The Celebrated Sturgeon Species’. A wild specimen was caught, measuring well over 9 m and weighing a massive 1400 Kg. This species carries steel blue to grey and black skin markings with light ventral and white creamy bony scutes down its back. Its flesh and its most precious “Beluga Caviar” represent an attractive an undertaking as the actual perpetuation of this rare species.
Being the second largest species in the Acipenser family, this is an ancient, freshwater, bottom dwelling feeding fish and characterised by a long and large cylindrical body, a subconical snout and four Barbels (beard-like) located at the base of its head. Reaching maturity within 10 years, the Transmontanus produces flawless, large sized roe in a solid dark chrome appearance.
This is a true representative of the Acipenseriformes family. Aquaculture offsprings are reared to an average of 1.25m and rank second in growth rate and longevity. The rare diamond variety has beautiful star-like markings but they are invariably lost, turning grey-black in colour during adulthood. The Gueldenstaedtii medium sized roes’ bear a delicious buttery and aromatic flavour, featuring ample colouration choices from medium yellow, olive green via hazelnut brown to anthracite.
The Siberian Sturgeon is the most popular and by far the easiest aquaculture species to breed. Resilient and tough, with a healthy and rapid rise to adulthood, this sturgeon will reach a maximum length of 1.2m in clean and comfortable aquaculture surroundings. The skin is brown-grey and black with the underside in contrasts of white. The end of their nose features a white tip. Siberian Sturgeon caviar roes are of a medium size, typified by a deep mahogany-brown colour with a velvety taste.
Best known as the Stellatus or Stary Sturgeon and easily recognised by its elongated nose and head. This part of its anatomy represents 25% of the total body length. This sturgeon keeps its beautiful markings throughout its life. Reaching a maximum of 1.50 m in the wild but considerably less in an aquaculture environment. All Stellate Sturgeons are keen jumpers. Despite its smaller physical attributes, roe remains small and graceful, appearing in luminous metallic-grey and with a memorable, fresh sea-salt flavour.
|The starlet is a slow-growing sturgeon of a very tolerant nature. In captivity it measures 0,60 – 0,90 m, reaching maturity over a period of ten years. Distinctive features are white edge markings with lines along its back to the pectoral and front fins. The small and light blue-greyish roes set it apart from the Stellatus|
|Published on Jan 14, 2015|