SWITZERLAND: January 3, 2007
GENEVA - The United Nations on Tuesday lifted a year-old embargo on exports
of most types of caviar from the Caspian Sea, the main source of the
delicacy, despite the fact that stocks are continuing to decline.
Exports of caviar, which can sell for as much as US$9,500 a kilo, were
banned in 2006 because the main producers -- Azerbaijan, Iran, Kazakhstan,
Russia and Turkmenistan -- failed to meet requirements, such as providing
stock levels. The U.N. Convention on International Trade in Endangered
Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) said it authorised the sale of
nearly 96 tonnes of caviar in 2007, some 15 percent below the quotas handed
out in 2005.
CITES said that the five producer states had agreed amongst themselves to
cut the combined catch quotas for sturgeon, whose eggs make caviar, by 20
percent from 2005 levels, with some species seeing a fall of over 30
"Ensuring that sturgeon stocks recover to safe levels will take decades of
careful fisheries management and an unrelenting struggle against poaching
and illegal trade," CITES Secretary-General Willem Wijnstekers said in a
"The decision taken by CITES last year not to publish caviar quotas has
undoubtedly helped to spur improvements to the monitoring programmes and
scientific assessments," he added.
Industry officials put the illegal trade at around 100 tonnes a year,
roughly the same as the legal market.
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