OTTERSTAD, O., CAPOTA, P. A and SIMION, A., 2011. Beluga Sturgeon Community Based Tourism (Best Combat). In: Micallef, Anthony, (ed.), MCRR3-2010 Conference Proceedings, Journal of Coastal Research, Special Issue, No. 61, pp. 183-193. Grosseto, Tuscany, Italy, ISSN 0749-0208.
This paper is based on a contemporary Norwegian-Romanian project where sustainable tourism is used to counteract an ongoing extinction of an extremely valuable natural resource, the Beluga sturgeon (Huso Huso). This fish is the world's biggest freshwater fish and it has been appreciated by humans since ancient times due to the good fish meat and the fish eggs, better known as the world's most expensive food commodity, the Beluga (also called ‘Russian’) caviar. The decline of the species has several reasons, among them the building of river dams and irrigation systems. During the last decades the most important threat has been intensified fishing. One of the places left to find it is in the lower Danube and the Black Sea, where a ban on fishing was introduced in 2006, but so far with limited success. The project has selected the village Sfantu Gheorghe for a case study. The present trends point to a probable outcome known as ‘The Tragedy of the Commons’, where the result inevitably is the destruction of the common resource. By approaching this particular community the project is trying to convince the locals from fishermen villages along the whole Danube to start protecting this resource against poaching and thus avoid that the most valuable potential tourist attraction in their neighborhoods is destroyed forever. The project uses ‘constructive sociology’ together with high-tech biological research to bring tourists closer to ‘the pregnancy road’ of the sturgeon. It also tries to work with authorities in the environmental and fishery sectors to set up a fishery regime that might give a base for long-term survival for both the fish and these fishing dependent communities. And not least, it works broadly with the local communities in a transparent way that should benefit most of the stakeholder groups.