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May 5, 2011

Caspain Caviar on the edge of extinction

Caviar is considered one of the most exclusive foods available and is widely associated as a symbol of Russia and Iran, its leading producers. However the the famous delicacy may become extinct as poaching levels outstrip the sturgeon’s ability to reproduce. Fishing for wild sturgeon is a serious crime in Russia, but the scarcity of the product has driven up its price. One Beluga Sturgeon from the Caspian Sea can yield up to 15kgs of caviar and at a current price of $10,000 dollars a KG, it is easy to see why illegal fishing is big business. At the moment over 80% of Caspian Sea Caviar is believed to be sourced by poachers, who are not bound by law, regulation or a concern for the long term viability of Caspian Caviar.




Given the vast profits involved, the smugglers are well armed and equipped using satellite phones, radar and speedboats to avoid the authorities, the use of bribes in a poor country is also hampering efforts to crack down on them. The Caspian Sea still produces most of the worlds black Caviar but it is now coming at a severe price, with Caspian sturgeon, the fish species that produces the caviar at only 5% of what they were 25 years ago.


Academics in Russia are calling for the saving of genetic samples of the sturgeon species, to ensure that their future sustainability can be ensured, indeed without careful breeding and management by scientists and fish breeders, it is believed that they would have become extinct a long time ago. The Governments around the Caspian Sea promote fish farms in an effort to revive Caspian caviar levels, to a sustainable position. It is a challenge though as Caspian Sea Sturgeon must be at least ten years of age before they can produce caviar. About one million fish are released every year but the vast majority of them are caught by poachers as soon as they reach the correct age to harvest Caspian Caviar, so the fish are not given a sustainable chance to recover.


As Nina Byckova says only better regulation on the ground can change the current situation.


“The problem is not the people on the ground. The problem is corruption at higher levels. A whole system has been constructed to make sure that those who break the law do not pay”.



Caspian Caviar may be about to become even rarer.


“The problem is not the people on the ground. The problem is corruption at higher levels. A whole system has been constructed to make sure that those who break the law do not pay”.


Caspian Caviar may be about to become even rarer.



Tom is passionate about food and sustainable management of our resources. He blogs at: arewhatyoueat.blogspot.com

Special Guest post by: Tom Stateler Author
Are What You Eat
Your Guide to Gourmet Food.







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