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Natural Sciences Education Abstract - Articles

The Decline of the Beluga Sturgeon: A Case Study about Fisheries Management


This article in NSE

  1. Vol. 36 No. 1, p. 66-75
    Received: Apr 5, 2007

    * Corresponding author(s): ljgraham@vt.edu
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  1. Larissa J. Graham * and
  2. Brian R. Murphy
  1. Department of Fisheries and Wildlife Sciences, Virginia Polytechnic Inst. and State Univ., 100 Cheatham Hall, Blacksburg, VA 24061


Beluga sturgeon (Huso huso) have inhabited the earth for more than 100 million years. During the past 20 years their numbers have declined by 90%, plummeting to the lowest population sizes ever recorded. This drastic decline has created much controversy as to whether harvest and trade of this species should continue. The situation is further complicated by management that varies among countries sharing the same resources, international trade, and altered ecological conditions that have decreased survival and natural reproduction. In January 2006, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) suspended the trading of all wild beluga sturgeon caviar from the Caspian Sea. A year later, CITES re-opened the trade of beluga sturgeon, despite much pressure from researchers. Opening and closing beluga sturgeon trade impacts the market and affects many parties, including fishers, consumers, and managers. After completing this case, students will have a better understanding of the complex process of managing shared natural resources, specifically dealing with beluga sturgeon populations in the Caspian Sea region. This case will also allow students to expand their critical thinking skills for decision making on a global, ecological issue while learning about a complicated problem involving many opinions, countries, and livelihoods.

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Copyright © 2007. Copyright © 2007 by the American Society of Agronomy