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Press release

Landed: 8ft missing fish

Missing rare fish arrives at the Natural History Museum

An eight-foot rare fish, recently at the centre of a dispute over legal rights, will be handed over to the Natural History Museum today (8 June 2004, 14.30) by Cornish fish merchant Tim Alsop.

Sturgeons are rarely seen in UK waters, this specimen was caught off the coast of Wales on Wednesday, 2 June 2004, and mysteriously disappeared a day later becoming the subject of an investigation by the Devon and Cornwall Police. The police were treating the disappearance as theft and an appeal was made for the fish to be donated to the Natural History Museum.

Legal rights to the fish were already being investigated before the theft took place as the sturgeon is believed to be an Atlantic species and as such is a royal fish. Being a royal fish, if caught, it becomes the property of the crown. The dealer had therefore approached Buckingham Palace and been granted permission to dispose of it as he wished. However, the species is also protected by CITES wildlife legislation, making it illegal to sell them and the police were looking to clarify the situation when the theft took place.

The controversial sturgeon has now been recovered and the owner has decided to donate it to the Natural History Museum’s national collection.

‘Sturgeons are extremely rare fishes now, particularly in British waters, so this catch is hugely important,’ said Oliver Crimmen, Natural History Museum Fish Curator. ‘We are very grateful to Tim Alsop for agreeing to give the fish to the Museum’s national collection. Once the species has been confirmed we hope that the fish will be kept in perpetuity by the Museum, alongside Darwin and Cook specimens, for all to enjoy.’

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The Natural History Museum is open
Monday - Saturday 10.00 -17.50, Sunday - 11.00 - 17.50
The Natural History Museum's public enquiries telephone number is 020 7942 5000
The Museum is accessible to visitors in wheelchairs.
For access details telephone 020 7942 5000
Nearest tube: South Kensington
Entry to the Museum: FREE

If you would like to interview Oliver Crimmen, please contact:

Joanna Glyde or Liz Woznicki
Tel: 07980 359415 / 07977 459913 (not for publication)

Issued 8 June 2004