Protection of common sturgeon: advice for fishermen

Advice and guidance on the catch, landing and sale of common sturgeon.

The Common or European Sturgeon (Acipenser sturio) are rarely seen in British waters, however a re-introduction programme in France has increased the potential for sightings and bycatch, with a number of catches recently reported in the English Channel.

Common sturgeon is protected under the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2017, the Conservation of Offshore Marine Habitats and Species Regulations 2017 and the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. They are also classed as a ‘Royal Fish’ and any sturgeon caught are the right of the Crown.

What to do if you catch a common sturgeon

It is an offence to land sturgeon without specific permission to do so from the MMO.

The MMO may issue a dispensation allowing you to land a dead sturgeon as long as it can be shown that it will be used for scientific research. The scientific community can gain valuable information from these fish, and so an authorised landing maybe granted to a scientific institution such as the Natural History Museum or Cefas. To find out more about dispensations

If a dead sturgeon is caught it should be returned to the sea if the skipper cannot get through to an MMO office immediately

It is important that any live fish are immediately returned to the sea unharmed. Due to the critical state of common sturgeon population numbers, the survival of each fish is essential.

If a live fish is caught it should be released and the following organisations should be contacted:

Any tagged fish are part of the current French re-introduction programme. If a tagged fish is caught please record the following information, where possible, before releasing the fish:

  • date of catch
  • location of catch (GPS or ICES rectangle)
  • size and weight of the fish
  • tag number
Published 16 January 2017