Reviews in Fish Biology and Fisheries 10: 355–392, 2001.
© 2001 Kluwer Academic Publishers. Printed in the Netherlands.
Biology and conservation of sturgeon and paddleﬁsh
Roland Billard & Guillaume Lecointre
Mus´eum National d’Histoire Naturelle, Laboratoire d’Ichtyologie, 43 rue Cuvier, 75231 Paris Cedex 05, France
(E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com)
Accepted 29 May 2001
Abstract page 355
Biogeography and life history 356
Karyology and hybridization in sturgeon 361
The species and their present threatened status 366
Conservation of sturgeon and paddleﬁsh 380
Reasons for the decline of populations
Genetic variability and size of populations
Recovery plans and conservation measures
Surgeon farming as a complementary conservation measure
Ex situ conservation and aquaculture biotechnologies
Key words: Acipenseriformes, conservation, paddleﬁsh, phylogeny, sturgeon, threatened status
The Acipenseriformes (sturgeon and paddleﬁsh) live in the Northern Hemisphere; half of these species live
in Europe, mostly in the Ponto-Caspian region, one third in North America, and the rest in East Asia and Siberia.
They reproduce in freshwater and most of them migrate to the sea, either living in brackish water (Caspian,
Azov, Black and Baltic Seas) or in full seawater on the oceanic continental shelf. Most species feed on benthic
organisms. Puberty usually occurs late in life (5–30 years of age) and adult males and females do not spawn on an
annual basis. Adults continue to grow and some species such as the beluga (Huso huso) have reached 100 years
of age and more than 1,000 kg weight. Stocks of sturgeons are dramatically decreasing, particularly in Eurasia;
the world sturgeon catch was nearly 28,000 t in 1982 and less than 2,000 t by 1999. This decline resulted from
overﬁshing and environmental degradation such as: accumulation of pollutants in sediments, damming of rivers,
and restricting water ﬂows, which become unfavorable to migration and reproduction. Several protective measures
have been instituted; for example, ﬁshing regulation, habitat restoration, juvenile stocking, and the CITES listing
of all sturgeon products including caviar. In addition, sturgeon farming presently yields more than 2,000 t per year
(equivalent to wild sturgeon landings) and about 15 t of caviar. Hopefully, this artiﬁcial production will contribute
to a reduction of ﬁshing pressure and lead to the rehabilitation of wild stocks.