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Sustainable use of sterlet and development of sterlet aquaculture in Serbia and Hungary

Institute for Multidisciplinary Research (former Center for Multidisciplinary Studies) from Serbia , in cooperation with the Research Institute for Fisheries, Aquaculture and Irrigation (HAKI) from Hungary, is conducting during 2007 and 2008 the project "Sustainable use of sterlet and development of sterlet aquaculture in Serbia and Hungary". Project is organized within the Cross-border Cooperation Programme Hungary-Serbia, which is being funded by European Agency for Reconstruction (EAR).

Sterlet populations of Tisza and Danube rivers and the genetic diversity of these populations are common environmental capital for Serbia and Hungary, or even for the whole Europe. Sustainable use of common natural resources is possible only if regulations in two countries are in accordance. There is a need for more investigation on state of sterlet natural population in two countries, as well as on the possibility for sterlet aquaculture development in both countries.

The following main activities will be carried out in this project:

  • Scientific data collection to describe the recent situation and investigate new possibilities in wild stock management and aquaculture.
  • Based on the new and existing scientific results, project team will prepare several studies to initiate new holistic approach in the fields of river management and aquaculture development.
  • Awareness raising actions to help decision makers and small and medium-sized enterprises in sustainable use of sterlet as valuable natural resource.
Danube fisherman with one larger sterlet specimen

Research will include determination of age structure and condition of sterlet population in the Danube and Tisza River, levels of heavy metal accumulation in different tissues and presence of sublethal effects, induced by the water and sediment pollution. The scientific methods, based on catchment data and field investigation results will be used to estimate the size of the sterlet population of the Tisza and Danube rivers. Furthermore, habitats prefered by sterlet will be assessed, including determination of bottom type and water flow velocity, as a basis for future protection of important place necessary for sterlet succsessful feeding and spawning.

One of the main problems in intensive sterlet aquaculture is the production of stocking material through artificial propagation and rearing of fry. This area will aslo be one of the main objects of the research. Laboratory and pilot scale experiments will be carried out in the recirculating production system of the HAKI to develop a standardised and cost effective method for the sterlet propagation and nursing of fish fry. While there are some methods for the successful propagation of this species, the intensive aquaculture production requires a more "industrial" method for production of sterlet fry. In these experiments, three different hormonal treatments and at least two different feeding and nursing methods will be tested.

During realization of the project, a workshop between Serbia and Hungary will be organized, with main goal to exchange experience in sterlet management in two countries and to provide consensus on future common sustainable use of sterlet population in the Danube and Tisza River. Meeting with all small and medium-sized enterprises interested in sterlet aquaculture will be organized in Serbia, in order to survey research, innovation and training needs.

Sterlet rearing facility; "Rideg & Rideg" fish farm at Homokmegy, Hungary

Project will also result in development of Action plan for sterlet protection and sustainable use in both countries, training programme for the decision makers and small and medium-sized enterprises about the sterlet aquaculture and natural stock management, as well as publishment of Handbook for sterlet aquaculture.

We hope that this project will contribute to decision makers in two countries to develop better management practices of common sterlet populations. Ratification of international conventions in both countries obliged them to sustainably utilize endangered species. Project results may provide new tools for both countries in economic development of rural areas through creation of a new natural resource from an endangered species. Dissemination of project results will also improve public awareness about the importance of protection and sustainable use of natural resources.


dr Mirjana Lenhardt

August 2007.

Internet presentation was funded by Minstry of Environmental Protection of Republic Serbia. Webdesign & maintenance: Ivan Jarić