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UNDP/GEF Project Returns Sterlet Back to Pripyat

There is a possibility that in the near future sterlet fish will be back in the Pripyat River. Making such a statement became possible due to the action on stocking the river with young fish of this valuable sturgeon specie, which took place today at the territory of the National Landscape Reserve “Middle Pripyat” in the Luninets District, Brest Region.

The event was organized by the international technical assistance project of the UN Development Programme and Global Environment Facility (GEF) “Catalyzing Sustainability of the Wetland Protected Area System in Belarusian Polesie through Increased Management Efficiency and Realigned Land Use Practices” within the framework of joint events of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Protection of Belarus and UNDP dedicated to the International Biodiversity Year 2010.

Stocking of the Pripyat River with sterlet will facilitate population increase of this specie and opens perspectives for further planning and reintroduction of sterlet, breeded in Belarusian fisheries, to the rivers of the Dnieper basin in order to restore the Dnieper population of this threatened specie. Addressing the participants Mr. Anatoly Lis, Deputy Minister of Natural Resources and Environmental protection of the Republic of Belarus, stressed the unique character of the action, which was conducted at the territory of Belarus for the first time.

Sterlet is the only specie from the sturgeon family, which can be found in the rivers of Belarus. In the first part of the XXth century starlet was rather numerous commercial fish in the Dnieper River basin. From 1981 the it was included into the Red Book of the Republic of Belarus, category I (CR) – population of the specie, which has extremely low numerosity, or as the threatened specie.

The part of the Pripyat River, which was chosen for the stocking, is located within the borders of the Landscape Reserve “Middle Pripyat” in the Luninets District of the Brest Region and is included into the fishing grounds reserve fund. The site fully corresponds to ecological and biological requirements for successful growth and breeding of sterlet. According to the fish stock and biological rationale of the stocking, developed within the UNDP/GEF “Polesie” Project by specialists of Scientific and Practical Centre for Bioresources of the National Academy of Sciences of Belarus, minor length of migration routes, availability of forage, as well as suitable sites for egg-laying and wintering allow sterlet to establish population at this part of the river without damage to life environment of other river fish.

The stocking of the Pripyat River with sterlet young fish is a pilot project, which provides with opportunity to test methodology and techniques on the Red Book fish species restoration and further apply this experience at a large scale within state programmes and initiatives.

Mr. Antonius Broek, UNDP Resident Representative in Belarus, underlined the efficiency of UNDP and governmental agencies co-operation in the Pripyat River region on the issues of biodiversity conservation and sustainable management of local natural resources. According to Mr. Broek today’s action  is a demonstrative example of such a collaboration.

For additional information, please, refer to Alexei Tchistodasrky, UNDP/GEF Projects Information Officer, tel. in Minsk +375 (17) 294 90 69 or GSM +375 (29) 656 15 30.

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