NEW YORK CITY- The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) announced trade quotas governing the export of wild sturgeon and their prized caviar eggs from the Caspian Sea. The Pew Institute for Ocean Science has analyzed the quotas, which are re-set each year, and has determined that beluga caviar quotas are virtually unchanged from 2007 and do little to halt continued population declines.
Most sturgeon species are endangered, having been overfished nearly to extinction in pursuit of their caviar. Caviar is a prized delicacy that can fetch more than $100 an ounce, and the Caspian Sea is home to beluga sturgeon (Huso huso), whose eggs are considered to be among the finest in the world. Despite evidence that beluga sturgeon stocks have declined by a staggering 90 percent in the past 20 years, CITES 2008 export quotas again permit the fish and their eggs to be harvested. The sturgeon quota system was established to ensure that trade in sturgeon products would only be permitted from sustainable fisheries, but much evidence indicates the quotas do not reflect the urgent need for protection and the rampant illegal harvest and trade.
The United States banned import of beluga caviar in 2006 after listing beluga sturgeon under the U.S. Endangered Species Act.
Once again, the range States have agreed upon beluga export quotas that are too permissive and that will jeopardize sturgeon survival in the wild, said Dr. Ellen Pikitch, Executive Director of the Pew Institute for Ocean Science, a leader in the effort to safeguard sturgeon. We cannot recommend purchasing any wild-caught caviar given the sorry state of sturgeon fisheries management.
Sturgeon can grow up to 2,500 pounds and 15 feet long. They can take 15 years to reach reproductive age, and females of many sturgeon species reproduce only once every three to four years. The fish must be killed to harvest caviar, and global demand for its eggs has prompted ove
|Contact: Kathryn Cervino|
University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science