Sturgeon

Sturgeon

Sturgeon

At a glance

Eco-rating Mercury Omega-3s
+-White sturgeon (farmed)
OK
Unknown

MORE ABOUT FARMED WHITE STURGEON

White sturgeon are the largest freshwater fish in North America, growing up to six feet long (1.8 meters) and weighing up to a ton. White sturgeon were once widely distributed from Alaska to Central California, but populations are now severely depleted and large fish are very rare.

Commercial Sources

The United States is the main commercial source of white sturgeon. A small quantity is also caught in Canada.

Capture Methods

A very small commercial fishery exists for white sturgeon in the Pacific Northwest; however the bulk of white sturgeon on the market originates on farms located in California and Idaho which use tank and raceway systems.

+-White sturgeon (wild, OR and WA)
OK
Moderate

MORE ABOUT FARMED WHITE STURGEON

White sturgeon are the largest freshwater fish in North America, growing up to six feet long (1.8 meters) and weighing up to a ton. White sturgeon were once widely distributed from Alaska to Central California, but populations are now severely depleted and large fish are very rare.

Commercial Sources

The United States is the main commercial source of white sturgeon. A small quantity is also caught in Canada.

Capture Methods

A very small commercial fishery exists for white sturgeon in the Pacific Northwest; however the bulk of white sturgeon on the market originates on farms located in California and Idaho which use tank and raceway systems.

+-Lake sturgeon
Worst
Elevated

MORE ABOUT LAKE STURGEON

Lake sturgeon are long-lived, bony fish which can grow up to five feet (1 1/2 meters) and weigh 80 pounds. Sturgeon are often referred to as "living fossils," since they have remained largely unchanged for millions of years.

Commercial Sources

Lake sturgeon sold commercially in the U.S. are primarily caught in Canada.

Capture Methods

Lake sturgeon are caught using gillnets. In Wisconsin's Lake Winnebago, a small recreational spear fishery still exists.

+-Russian sturgeon
Worst
Elevated

MORE ABOUT RUSSIAN STURGEON

Russian sturgeon, valued for their expensive caviar, live in the Black Sea and Caspian Sea. These bony fish can be over 6 feet (2 meters) long and weigh as much as 250 pounds. Russian sturgeon are slow to mature and reproduce, making them highly vulnerable to overfishing.

Commercial Sources

Endangered Russian sturgeon are caught in the Caspian Sea by Russia, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan and Iran. There is some farmed production in Europe.

Capture Methods

Russian sturgeon are caught using gillnets. Russian sturgeon farms have started in Europe and Russia, though production is small to date.

+-Stellate sturgeon
Worst
Elevated

MORE ABOUT STELLATE STURGEON

Stellate sturgeon are the smallest and most abundant sturgeon in the Caspian Sea and can also be found in the Azov and Black Seas. Fully grown, they can reach almost seven feet in length and weigh almost 200 pounds.

Stellate sturgeon are endangered in parts of their natural range, and populations are supported in other parts largely through artificial stocking operations. Overfishing is the main cause of the decline of the stellate sturgeon.

Commercial Sources

Stellate sturgeon are caught in the Caspian Sea by Russia, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan and Iran. They are also farmed in Europe.

Capture Methods

Stellate sturgeon are caught using gillnets. They are also farmed in tanks and raceways.

+-Sturgeon (wild, imported)
Worst
Elevated

More about imported Wild sturgeon

Most wild populations of sturgeon are severely depleted as a result of pollution, habitat degradation and overfishing.

Intense international demand for high-priced caviar has driven the species to near extinction in the Caspian Sea region (Beluga, Russian/Osetra, Stellate/Sevruga)

+-Atlantic sturgeon
Worst
Low

MORE ABOUT ATLANTIC STURGEON

A subtropical fish sometimes displayed in public aquariums, the Atlantic sturgeon has been known to grow to a record 16 feet (4.9 meters) and weigh as much as 811 lbs (368 kg). Wild Atlantic sturgeon is listed as a candidate for endangered or threatened status.

Commercial Sources

Atlantic sturgeon are found in the freshwater and marine environments of eastern North America, from Newfoundland to Florida.

Note: In the United States, Atlantic sturgeon are listed as a threatened species, and its trade is restricted. However, other sturgeon species are available on the market.

Capture Methods

There is a moratorium on U.S. commercial landings of Atlantic sturgeon.

Note: In the United States, Atlantic sturgeon are listed as a threatened species, and its trade is restricted. However, other sturgeon species available in the market.

+-Beluga sturgeon
Worst
Elevated

MORE ABOUT BELUGA STURGEON

Beluga are an ancient species of fish that live in the Caspian Sea region. They can reach lengths of 15 feet (4 1/2 meters) and weigh over a ton. Beluga populations are on the brink of extinction due to overfishing and habitat loss.

Beluga sturgeon are a critically endangered species from the Caspian Sea. Despite massive stocking efforts, a recent fisheries survey in the Caspian only located a few dozen fish, most of which were immature.

Commercial Sources

The main commercial sources of beluga are Iran and the former Soviet republics of Russia, Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan.

Capture Methods

Beluga are caught using gillnets.

Recommended servings per month

Contaminant Men Women Kids 6-12 Kids 0-5
White sturgeon (wild, OR and WA) Mercury 4+ 4+ 3 2
Atlantic sturgeon Mercury 4+ 4+ 4+ 4+
White sturgeon (farmed) Unknown 4 4 4 4
Lake sturgeon Mercury, *PCBs 3 3 2 1
Russian sturgeon Mercury, *PCBs 3 3 2 1
Stellate sturgeon Mercury, *PCBs 3 3 2 1
Sturgeon (wild, imported) Mercury, *PCBs 3 3 2 1
Beluga sturgeon Mercury, *PCBs 3 3 2 1

* This fish has been shown to have elevated PCB levels in some places. Please visit the EPA’s National Listing of Fish Advisories to check for any consumption alerts in your area.

Eco details: 

Most wild populations of sturgeon are severely depleted as a result of pollution, habitat degradation and overfishing. Intense international demand for high-priced caviar has driven the species to near extinction in the Caspian Sea region (Beluga, Russian/Osetra, Stellate/Sevruga).

Farmed white sturgeon are environmentally preferable to wild sturgeon from the Caspian Sea region.