National workshop for law enforcement authorities in Romania

On the 30th and 31st of October in Tulcea, WWF Romania organised a National Workshop for the authorities involved in the protection of the wild Danube sturgeons. The event was part of the “LIFE for Danube Sturgeons” project, where WWF Romania and the Danube Delta Biosphere Reserve Authority in Tulcea (DDBRA) are partner organisations for the implementation of the project in Romania.

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The workshop gathered more than fifty representatives from different institutions: the National Agency for Fisheries and Aquaculture, the General Inspectorate of Police, the Police Transport Department, the Danube Delta Police Service, the General Inspectorate of the Gendarmerie, the General Customs Directorate, Border Police, from the University of Galati and other non-governmental entities.

During the first day, several presentations were made, where Tudor Ionescu from the University of Galați, brought up the scientific perspective speaking about sturgeons, their life-cycle and the decline of sturgeon populations in the Danube river. Later on, presented were the two studies carried out within the project “LIFE for Danube Sturgeons”: assessment of the socio-economic situation of the fishing communities, where the project operates, and finding possible alternative sources of income for these communities. The second study is an analysis of the norms and procedures applied in Romania for the control of sturgeon fishing and trade.

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The highlight of the day were the discussions held in three thematic groups on aquaculture, fishing and trade. Much had been talked about the use of modern  technology for better control and prevention of illegal sturgeon fishing, the need of more strict control and serious punishments for those who are involved in illegal sturgeon fishing and trade and about improving the information flow and collaboration between relevant institutions.

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At the second day, WWF Romania showed the training videos produced within the “LIFE for Danube Sturgeons” project: on identification of the wild native Danube sturgeons and identification of exotic and hybrid sturgeons, and on the CITES caviar labelling requirements. The videos were very well received and representatives of several law enforcement authorities expressed interested in receiving training on sturgeon identification and on the CITES requirement for caviar labelling.

The workshop continued with a visit to the aquarium in Tulcea, which is part of the Danube Delta museum. The participants had a guided tour through the history, nature and cultural richness of the Danube Delta and the culmination of the visit was the aquarium with live sturgeon species.

“The National workshop was a real success, firstly because we had a large and diverse number of participants, and secondly, the level of the meeting was very good – important issues on sturgeon protection were openly discussed and the participants came up with concrete suggestions for tackling the illegal fishing and trade of sturgeons in Romania.” – says Cristina Munteanu, Project Coordinator “LIFE for Danube Sturgeons” WWF Romania. – “Moreover, we were glad to hear that at the beginning of October, relevant authorities in the field of fisheries control had signed a protocol for cooperation in fighting illegal fishing.”

“LIFE for Danube Sturgeons” in Romania works with fishing communities in: Borcea, Fetești, Vadu Oii, Galați and Sfântu Gheorghe, Jurilovca.