The sterlet is a highly endangered main fish species in the Austrian Danube. Due to the loss of habitats, mainly due to power plants and river regulations, only very small populations can be found in the Austrian Danube, which barely reproduce.
Therefore, the LIFE project "Restoration of sterlet populations in the Austrian Danube" was started in November 2015 under the management of the Institute of Hydrobiology and Aquatic Ecosystem Management of the University of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources (BOKU Vienna). The objective of this six-year project is the establishment and preservation of viable sterlet populations in the last free flowing sections of the Austrian Danube, namely east of Vienna and in the Wachau. 
viadonau supports this project as co-financer with 50,000 EUR.

The conservation project shall be implemented through the following activities:

  • Establishment of a gene database of wild and breeding populations
  • Identification of suitable habitats by means of adult animals fitted with a transmitter
  • Breeding and stocking of juveniles bred in the Danube in suitable habitats
  • Monitoring of the breeding success by means of the capture-recapture (CRC) method
  • Identification of habitat requirements

Further information is available under: (German)


  • IHG (Institute of Hydrobiology) of the University of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources (BOKU Vienna)
  • Zoological Institute of the Slovak Academy of Science
  • City of Vienna (MA 45)
  • viadonau (co-financer)

Duration and budget

01.11.2015 – 31.12.2021
Total project budget: EUR 907,500

News and project status

  • In summer 2016, a breeding container with a show aquarium went into operation on the Danube Island in Vienna. Since then, several stocking campaigns were conducted at the Danube, the March and the Thaya (meanwhile, approx. 25,000 juvenile fish were released). An imagefilm and a YouTube channel, keeping track of the stocking campaigns, are available online.  
  • From 10 to 16 September 2017 an international sturgeon symposium took place at the BOKU Vienna. Two field trips to the Wachau were co-organised and financed by viadonau. Furthermore, on 17 October 2017 an additional stocking event took place in the framework of the LIFE+ project Auenwildnis Wachau, attended by representatives of the fishery sector, mayor Polz and a local elementary school.


Due to the success of the project a follow-up project has started. In the project "LIFE Boat 4 Sturgeon" brood fishs of the last four Danube Sterlet breeds will build a living genetic library. It will be situated on the vessel "Negrelli" of viadonau, so living and breeding conditions are matched with their natural habitat.

  • In 2018 approx. 50,000 fish were bred. 30 one-year-old sterlets were fitted with a transmitter and released in the Wachau.
  • Through the whole project time, approximately 145,000 fish were bred and released into Danube, March and Thaya. At this time, about 100 fish were fitted with a transmiter and the data is being analyzed and it can be seen that the project is successfully.

The project makes a substantial contribution to the implementation of measure
17. Execute restoration measures implementing the EU Water Framework Directive of the Action Programme for the Danube 2022.