First out-of-season reproduction of beluga sturgeon

The Beluga sturgeon (Huso huso Linnaeus, 1758) has a decreasing population trend and is classified as critically endangered in the Black- and Azov seas, and regionally extinct in the Adriatic Sea. It is extirpated from the upper parts of almost all the European spawning rivers (e.g. Danube, Dniester, Dnieper, Don, Kuban, Terek and Volga) mainly because of overfishing and dams that block migration routes.

Depleted fishery

Official commercial landings (mainly Russian) have decreased dramatically during recent decades, from >520t/a in the early 1990’s to <3 t/a at the beginning of the 2010’s. Huso huso is the largest freshwater fish in the world, and is a valuable candidate for aquaculture as it has the fastest growth within the family, and its caviar commands the highest price.

Martin Hochleithner (owner of AquaTech, in Kitzbuehel, Austria) started farming sturgeon in the

mid 1980s, first with bester (a hybrid of Huso huso and sterlet,Acipenser ruthenus), and later with pure-bred sterlet, Siberian sturgeon (A. baerii)Russian sturgeon (A. gueldenstaedtii)and Adriatic sturgeon (A. naccarii ).

Early days

In the early 1990s a large number of fertilized H. huso eggs from the Pontic Danube stock was hatched and cultured in Austria. These Flarvae were fed with live zooplankton (Daphnia) and choppped live oligochaetes (Tubifex) for the first weeks. After a month, the fry were weaned onto crumbled dry-food, mixed with moist feed for a few weeks, then stocked into 5m Ø circular tanks for five years, until a heavy bacterial infection occurred. Thereafter the fish were stocked into small earthen ponds (100-2000 m2), for an additional five years.

Under a cooperation contract with Stefano Marturano (manager of Azienda Agricola Pisani Dossi in Cisliano, Italy) part of the 10-year-old sub-adult stock was transferred to Italy (the rest remained in Austria), in order to divide the risk for these highly valuable broodstock specimens. There the fish are kept in circular tanks (6m Ø) supplied with ground-water (at about 12-18 °C), and are fed ad libitumwith pelleted dry-food.

Slow to mature

Under these culture conditions, the first males matured at nine years of age, but females did not mature before the age of 18. The first maturing females were found in the over-ripe stage VI in spring. Later it was discovered that beluga broodfish in culture conditions get ready for reproduction (stage V) in northern Italy in autumn (October-December), rather than in spring (March-May) like wild stocks under natural conditions. Out-of-season reproduction is reported here for the first time.

Full circle beluga

Full circle cultivation of beluga was reached at the end of last year, where a new generation (F2) of H. huso was successfully produced in captivity. The hatched larvae have been split (50:50) and sent to two different farms (in Italy and Austria), where they are stocked in different tanks (large rectangular and small square), and supplied with water at different temperatures (13-14 and 17-18 °C), and fed with different diets (frozen chironomids and live zooplankton), and finally weaned onto crumbled dry-food.

The survival rates after two months were almost identical, but growth was significantly faster in the warmer water. A small number of these out-of-season offspring were supplied for a restocking project in the Italian Po River and another larger number for farming activities in the European Union.

Breeding beluga sturgeon in captivity is still far from being routine, but the outlook is promising. The main problems have been solved, and the minor troubles identified, so regular reproduction can be expected henceforward. However, cannibalistic behaviour by the larvae remains an important issue to solve.

Нow our Vietnamese colleagues works

The sturgeon farm of Vietnam Sturgeon Group was established in Dalat in 2007 at an altitude of 1,500 m above sea level. This is the first company in Vietnam to produce and distribute caviar from sturgeon varieties bred in Dalat.

Previously, sturgeon eggs were produced only in areas with cold climates. Today, modern technology enables the breeding of rare fish like beluga in cool climate conditions, such as found in the highlands of Vietnam.

Some pictures of the first sturgeon farm in VN:

sturgeon farm, carvia, sturgeon eggs

In order to have a perfect quality of eggs, sturgeons must be 5-10 years old. Eggs are harvested in a closed process.

sturgeon farm, carvia, sturgeon eggs

Sturgeon can live in captivity. Water must be clean and sustained at below 27 degrees Celsius.

sturgeon farm, carvia, sturgeon eggs

The areas in Vietnam that are ideal for farming sturgeon are Dami in Binh Thuan Province, Buon Tua Srah in Dak Lak, Cam Son in Bac Giang, and Vinh Son in Binh Dinh.

sturgeon farm, carvia, sturgeon eggs

The most stringent requirement to breed this fish is the water temperature.

Breeding sturgeons are housed in a separate area. Previously, breeding fish were created from imported eggs from Russia and Germany.


sturgeon farm, carvia, sturgeon eggs

Russian sturgeons have a very eye-catching yellow.

sturgeon farm, carvia, sturgeon eggs

Their food is small fish such as sardines and anchovy.

sturgeon farm, carvia, sturgeon eggs

Sardines and anchovies are cut into pieces and released at night, from 7pm to 4am.

sturgeon farm, carvia, sturgeon eggs

In addition, sturgeons are also fed with earthworms and small shrimp.

Sturgeons of less than 1kg in weight are fed four times a day and the larger ones receive two meals.

sturgeon farm, carvia, sturgeon eggs

10-year-old sturgeons start producing eggs.

sturgeon farm, carvia, sturgeon eggs

Females undergo ultrasound before their eggs are harvested.

sturgeon farm, carvia, sturgeon eggs

Eggs are processed in two methods: traditionally salted and salted by heat. The salt must be pure Himalayan rock salt with a very low rate (less than 3.5 percent).

sturgeon farm, carvia, sturgeon eggs

The most expensive product is the salted eggs of albino sturgeons, which may reach up to VND1.8 billion ($90,000) per kg.

More than a ton of illegally harvested sturgeon and black caviar were seized in Astrakhan

Law enforcement agencies of the region stopped the channel for selling sturgeon fish. On the territory of one of the commercial firms, as well as in two pavilions on the main city fish market, members of the Department of Economic Security and Anti-Corruption of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Russia in the Astrakhan region, together with colleagues from the regional FSB Department, found about 10 kilograms of black caviar, 1,300 kilograms of sturgeon, stellate sturgeon, beluga And sterlet.

About 160 freshly frozen carcasses, ready-dried products and black caviar are directed to ihtiological and chemical-technological research. Experts do not exclude that a part of fish is illegally imported from abroad and contains dangerous substances. Earlier, operatives of the two agencies documented the fact of the illegal sale of Russian sturgeon in the indicated outlets.

The confiscated is transferred to the responsible custody of the enterprise. The owner of the fish is installed.

The department of inquiry of the regional police instituted criminal proceedings on the grounds of the crime provided for by Part 1 of Article 258.1 (Illegal mining and circulation of particularly valuable wild animals and aquatic biological resources belonging to species listed in the Red Book of the Russian Federation and / or protected by international treaties of the Russian Federation) CC RF.

Currently, investigative actions and operational activities aimed at identifying individuals involved in the illegal circulation of particularly valuable aquatic biological resources protected by international treaties of the Russian Federation are continuing.

Russia and China released young sturgeon to the border waters of the Amur River

Khabarovsk, August 1, 2017. – Experts from Russia and China released 150 thousand pieces into the border waters of the Amur River. Juveniles of Amur sturgeon and 50 thousand pieces of Kaluga fry, as well as 100 specimens of adult Amur sturgeon. The event in the area of ​​the Great Ussuri island took place on July 29 as part of a visit by the Russian delegation to the sturgeon hatchery in Fuyuan (China) and in accordance with the protocol of the 26th session of the Joint Russian-Chinese Commission for Cooperation in the Field of Fisheries.

During the meeting, the participants exchanged experience and information on the volume of release of sturgeon fry to the Amur River for the years 2016 and 2017.

According to PRC specialists, in 2017, 400,000 units are planned to be discharged into the border waters of the Amur River. Young sturgeon species of fish.

On the Russian side, the joint release of young aquatic bioresources is planned for August 9, 2017 from the Vladimir sturgeon hatchery of the “Amurrybvod” FGBU.

Source: Amur Territorial Administration

Kazakhstan workshop on controlled sturgeon reproduction

In March 6-9, 2017 in Atyrau (Kazakhstan) “Tengizchevroil  LLP” company, at the premises of the sturgeon hatchery organized and conducted a methodical workshop on modern methods of control reproduction of sturgeon in Ural river.

Among the participants of the workshop were managers and staff of Ural-Atyrau and Atyrau sturgeon hatcheries, private sturgeon farms, Atyrau branch of Kazakh Research Institute of Fishery, as well as specialists of “Tengizchevroil LLP”. The workshop conducting and discussion of issues, related to increasing the effectiveness of sturgeon hatcheries stock enhancement were performed by Prof. Mikhail Chebanov and Dr. Elena Galich (both Krasnodar, Russia).

Kaza1

In the course of the workshop Prof. Mikhail Chebanov and  Dr. Elena Galich demonstrated  14 presentations as follows:

  • Modern technology of control reproduction of sturgeon: shortcomings and development of best practices for sturgeon hatcheries.
  • Molecular-genetic testing of brood fish and optimization of crossing (selection) of females and males to prevent inbreeding;
  • Ultrasound monitoring of the reproductive system of the broodstock (sexing and staging) and revealing of abnormalities and diseases of the internal organs (heart, liver, gall bladder, spleen),ascites of the abdominal cavity, obesity of gonads and internal organs, cystosis, etc., that especially important for selection of wild fish for the long-term domestication program ;
  • adjustment of feeding regimes, depending on the stages of maturity and obesity of the internal organs of the reared fish, determined by ultrasound; recommendations on feeds at different stages;
  • adaptation (domestication) of wild  fish to long-term holding at hatcheries for formation domestic brood stock and general welfare issues of sturgeon in aquaculture);
  • optimization of selection and grouping of females for gonadotropic injections (the novel methods and technique used for this);
  • best practices applied in similar sturgeon hatcheries to improve the results and survival rate of larvae, in particular enrichment (bio-encapsulation) of live feeds, etc. and others topics.

 

Also was held the training on mastering of the practical skills of hatchery specialists in non-invasive express- methods for ultrasound diagnostics of sexing and stages of maturity of different sturgeon species, originated from hatchery-built  broodstock.

Kaza2

As a summary, were presented some suggestions for selection and distribution of various age graded females and males into groups of different stage of gonad maturity and size, those requires different regimes of holding (depending on temperature, stocking density, feeding norms or feed deprivation for optimization of growth, puberty rate and welfare requirements).

In addition, on request of “Tengizchevroil” employees, an express assessment of the hatchery functional efficiency was performed and (in light of this) preliminary brief recommendations on improving its operation performance were formulated.

 

Source: WSCS