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Could Sussex be next port of call for rare sturgeon?
Anyone for caviar? Anglers are being warned to look out for a fishy customer – a rare sturgeon.
Experts claim the rare fish could soon be a regular visitor to the Sussex coast after one was caught by a boy in Wales last month.
Sturgeons are one of the most protected fish in the world – and its precious eggs are served as caviar.
The last Sussex sturgeon was caught 22 years ago by a trawler five miles off Rye harbour, while the first record of one being taken in the county was nearly 50 years ago in 1964 from Bosham Harbour.
The only other record is one caught nine miles off Worthing in 1986 also by a trawler.
Steve Colclough, from the Institute of Fisheries Management (IFM), said he was “sure” the fish caught in Wales was a sturgeon – and warned more could be on the way to Sussex.
He said: “We are sure from the only photograph taken of this fish at Pembroke Dock that it was a sturgeon and that it may be the forerunner of others arriving here. Where it came from is at present a mystery.
“It is illegal to retain sturgeon and anybody catching one should return it quickly unharmed and alive to the water and then report it.
“Before putting it back they should note as many facts as possible – its length, overall condition, signs of damage or disease, the data on any tag attached to it and take a good photo.”
A yellow tag would show the fish had probably migrated from the Gironde river in France where the European sturgeon is now being bred and released.
The fish would normally stay in the Gironde until they were about ten years old and they might then migrate to the open sea, Mr Colclough added.
He said: “If they came to the UK they would most likely be caught in estuaries and still be juvenile fish. Normally they would live 50 or 60 years and grow up to three-metres long.”
Sussex anglers and commercial fishermen should report any sturgeon catches to the Sussex Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority at Shoreham on 01273 454407.
Mr Colclough would also like to hear from them on 01634 686460 or by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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