Observation of Sturgeon Poaching in Ukraine Is No Longer Mission Impossible

WWF-Ukraine donated a modern surveillance camera to the State Border Guard Service of Ukraine

The border guards of the Vylkove department in Ukraine now have a new assistant in the prevention of illegal fishing of Red List species, primarily sturgeons. In September, the WWF-Ukraine expert Inna Hoch provided the guards with an external rotating IP camera. It was installed on the poachers’ favourite spot in the Danube Delta area where cases of illegal sturgeon fishing had been often documented. The camera comes through the EU-funded project “LIFE for Danube Sturgeons”.

Spawning migration is an integral part of the natural life cycle of all Danube sturgeons. There are various routes that sturgeons use to migrate, but almost all of them are well-known to the poachers,” said Inna Hoch. “An effective solution is to use a stationary camera which operates not only to expose any violations of the laws on fishing, but also with a preventive purpose. We hope that this equipment will help to protect the life cycle of sturgeon in the Danube Delta. ”

This stationary camera that will monitor the river’s area of concern is the very first one in the Ukrainian part of the Danube Delta,” said Bogdan Gumenyuk, Head of the Vylkove Department of the Izmail Border Gurd Squad. “In comparison with the situation in Romania, there is a whole system of video surveillance functioning there to capture and disclose such violations. The Ukrainian camera was installed in the area where a 1.8 meter Beluga had been killed by poachers at the end of last year.

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The IP camera can transmit video in full HD format. It is able to rotate horizontally in 360 degrees, and also to move vertically. The Ukrainian border guards will be able to configure and manage the main functions of the device through a smartphone or the Internet.

According to Bogdan Gumenyuk,”this will allow us to quickly identify offenses in real time and prevent illegal fishing of valuable fish species, primarily sturgeons. Furthermore, the camera will give us video material to use when appealing to court.”

The pilot IP camera is already in use, but at least 5-6 additional devices are required for full monitoring of the Danube Delta. Therefore, the work in this area will have to be continued and extra funding secured.

The project “LIFE for Danube Sturgeon” aims to enhance the international cooperation of law enforcement agencies and the exchange of good practices that will ultimately decrease the amount of sturgeons poached in the Lower Danube.