The prospects for restoring the nearly extinct population of the Adriatic sturgeon Acipenser naccarii Bonaparte 1836 (Acipenseridae) in Greece

Ioannis Paschos, Cosmas Nathanailides, Ifigenia Kagalou, Eufrosini Leka, Maria Tsoumani and Costas Perdikaris

aqua, International Journal of Ichthyology, pp. 123-132, Volume 7, Issue 3 – October 2003


Once considered abundant, the Adriatic sturgeon (Acipenser naccarii Bonaparte, 1836) is currently very rare in the Adriatic, with only a few individuals present in some surrounding rivers. There is some evidence that in the past, the species was found in the coastal waters of north-west Greece, around the island of Corfu and off the coast of Thesprotia, but now it appears to have virtually vanished from Greece’s coastal waters and river ecosystems. Dam construction, over-fishing and habitat destruction have completely eliminated the breeding population in the river Kalamas in Thesprotia. On November 2000, 1500 A. naccarii fry, (imported from Lombardy, Italy) with a mean body weight of 1.2 g, were released at selected sites on the river Kalamas. At the same time, 500 fish from the same stock were held indoors for intensive rearing. During the succeeding 13 months, experimental sampling showed that the surviving fish had grown. There is evidence that the population is distributed over at least one region close to the site of release. The sturgeon reared indoors exhibited satisfactory growth, (specific growth rate SGR=1.7%· day1) and had negligible mortality rates. From these results it seems that there is some prospect of successfully re-establishing A. naccarii in the river Kalamas. Re-stocking efforts can be improved by growing sturgeon fry under intensive rearing conditions to achieve larger size prior to release and to increase survival rates in the wild.

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