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18th Apr 13Managed by Chatham House
Financed by DEFRA
Black and burning: caviar issue
Despite eating or selling black caviar is illegal, this tasty fish eggs regularly appear in shops. Biologists from World Wildlife Fund remind that selling even a single black egg is against Russian laws and demand banning black caviar export.
Sturgeon populations, especially in the Caspian Sea, tend to suffer from excessive fishing loads. Negative patterns keep growing, without any signs of elimination. First of all, we should mention reduction of senior part of fish population. Data of various scientific institutions show that spawning part of great sturgeon (or beluga, Huso huso), starred sturgeon (Acipenser stellatus) and Russian sturgeon (Acipenser gueldenstaedti) consists of mainly first-time spawning fishes. This fact means following: fishing industry, both legal and illegal, eliminates nearly all spawning sturgeons.
August 2007 introduced the ban on retail sale of sturgeon caviar and obligate liquidation of caviar, forfeited from poachers and traders. This ban is the first and necessary stage in long chain of activities, aimed at termination of illegal fishing and prevention of ecological catastrophe. This year Russian state authorities allocated sturgeon catch quotas solely and exclusively for recruiting sturgeons for brood stocks at fish breeding farms and for scientific research.
However, we still can see black caviar not only at poachers cars, but also on counters of large supermarkets (it costs a lot even compared to last years prices). Moreover, situation with caviar export remains unclear too. For 2007 Russian state authorities announced incredibly high black caviar export quotas ' 20 tons. Total allowable catches (TAC) of Russian sturgeon in 2007 reached 110 tons of fish, which can produce only 12 tons of black caviar. Where eight more tons of caviar for taking up the quota would have appeared from? And what about recruits for fish breeding farms?
WWF experts claim any state, which fights illegal sturgeon fishing, should be accurate with quota figures. All recent catch quotas were explained by needs of science and fish breeding farms. Where these enormous export quotas, which Russia submits to Secretary of Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora origin from then? These quotas exceed all legal fishing figures.
When a state submits export quotas this means de-facto this state keeps commercial fishing, in our case it is sturgeon fishing. WWF considers next important step in illegal fishing fight to be laying of a moratorium on black caviar export for minimum of five years. Biologists emphasize that condition and dynamics of sturgeon populations dont allow fishing or commercial use of these giant fishes. Situation requires quick and radical reaction, or in several years sturgeons will find themselves listed in the Endangered Spaces List of the Red Book.
Moreover, WWF encourage citizens of Russia and other countries to avoid buying black caviar from countries, surrounding the Caspian Sea (Russian, Iran, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan), since sturgeons there belong to the same population.
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Issues/Governance / management
Eastern Europe and North Asia/Azerbaijan
Eastern Europe and North Asia/Kazakhstan
Eastern Europe and North Asia/Russian Federation
Eastern Europe and North Asia/Turkmenistan