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Conservationist group WWF on Tuesday urged Romania and Bulgaria, home to the last viable wild sturgeon populations in the European Union, to protect the species, threatened by illegal fishing and caviar trade.

"Sturgeon is a species threatened by overfishing, by the pressure of the caviar market and by infrastructure projects that hamper its migration up the Danube," WWF Romania program director Magor Csibi told a press conference.

Csibi said that despite a 10-year sturgeon fishing ban imposed by Romania in 2006, followed by Bulgaria in 2011, poaching continues, especially in the Danube Delta, where the local economy depends on fishing.

"Romania and Bulgaria are home to the only viable wild sturgeon populations left in the European Union, but unless this sophisticated illegal fishing is stopped, these fish are doomed," said WWF's Jutta Jahrl, author of a new report conducted jointly with TRAFFIC, a wildlife trade monitoring network.

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