The dramatic effects of human pressures to the ecological river system are especially reflected by the decline of the sturgeons. The large anadromous species of sturgeons of the Danube River have gone extinct in the Middle and Upper Danube already in the last century. Reasons are overfishing and disruption of the river continuum. Only the small Sterlet, living its whole life cycle in freshwater, can still be found in very small isolated populations in the Upper Danube. It’s stock is highly endangered. 

The aim of this project is to strengthen the wild stock of the sterlet and to establish healthy and self-sustaining populations in the different sections of the Danube River.

From 2016 to 2021, the following actions are planned:

  • Establishment of a hatchery station on the Danube island in Vienna
  • Yearly reintroduction of juvenile sterlets into the designated project areas
  • Identification of sensitive habitats and recommendations for their protection
  • Development of a management plan for the sterlet in the Upper Danube

As of yet (2022), around 239,000 juveniles have been released from our Danube-water fed hatchery station.

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An overview over the project can be found in the layman’s report

PDF Download: MA45 Laienbericht_EN_K2.pdf

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Institute of Zoology, Slovak Academy of Sciences


The project areas are located in the last free-flowing sections of the Austrian Danube (Wachau and Donauauen National Park) and the Morava River. These areas offer high habitat diversity and are very attractive through various morphological restoration activities in former LIFE Projects.

The team consists of the Institute of Hydrobiology and Aquatic Ecosystem Management of the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna, the City of Vienna MA45 (municipality for Vienna Water Bodies) and the Plant Science and Biodiversity Centre SAS of the Slovak Academy of Sciences. It is funded by the European Union with 60% through the LIFE-Program. Further sponsors are from the field of fisheries, nature conservation and governmental bodies




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