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18th Apr 13Managed by Chatham House
Financed by DEFRA
5-year ban on sturgeon fishing proposed
Moscow - For the world's upper crust, the mystique of caviar has never been simply just something to savor - it's always been something to flaunt.
Czars served it in mounds to impress banquet guests. In Ireland, they've come up with the "Elit Martini": Stolichnaya vodka, vermouth and an olive stuffed with beluga caviar. Price: $86.
Alas, the jet set's love affair with caviar may be in for a crash landing. Russia is proposing a five-year ban on Caspian Sea fishing for sturgeon, the species that produces roe for black caviar.
"This is because the sturgeon is about to disappear," Alexander Savelyev, spokesman for Russia's state fisheries agency, said in Moscow last week.
Savelyev said Russia is prepared to impose the moratorium on Russian fishermen and is asking the other nations that border the Caspian - Azerbaijan, Iran, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan - to do the same.
Poaching of sturgeon has become a $1 billion-a-year business largely in the hands of organized crime. As a result, the fish faces extinction in the Caspian Sea, home to 90 percent of the world's sturgeon. Russian sturgeon farms in major Caspian ports such as Astrakhan have tried to revive the fish's population, but the massive amount of overfishing in the Caspian has made replenishment a losing battle.
Russian government officials hope a five-year ban on fishing will be enough for sturgeon to bounce back. Up until now, sturgeon have proven to be a remarkably resilient variety of fish; sturgeon fossils have been found that date as far back as 250 million years.
Whether sturgeon can survive the armadas of poachers that ply the Caspian's choppy waves, as well as a market that pays nearly $5,000 for a pound of caviar, remains to be seen.
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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
Ocean Areas/Caspian Sea