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A Global Overview of Sturgeon Aquaculture

GLOBE - The over-exploitation of natural and enhanced sturgeon stocks for caviar production and habitat deteriorations has led to drastic declines in the natural stocks. As a consequence, IUCN in 1997 listed all commercially utilised sturgeon species world-wide on Annex II of the CITES regulations have required internationally agreed quotas for trade in order to promote protection.

According to the World Sturgeon Conservation Society, demand for caviar on export markets is estimated to be in the range of 500 to 3,000 t annually. The high price level of this product continues with further gradual increases. The feasibility of aquaculture production of sturgeon caviar therefore seems to become attractive and possible, and was already predicted since 1995, and has gained increased shares on the world market.

Russia, Iran, the European Union, China and USA are among the major producers and consumers, but also entities in other countries and outside of the natural range of sturgeons are increasingly contributing to the production.

The present total output of about 80-100 t of caviar from aquaculture is now already exceeding the legal caviar yeld from fisheries by four times (2006), - included Aquaculture - supported by ocean ranching.

The development of small experimental ventures mainly focused on the production of meat and stocking material for recreational purposes in the early 1990s are outlined.

Further the future trends and the potential for large scale production of caviar will be discussed on the basis of various information sources, taking into account the uncertainties and opportunities of these relatively new branch of aquaculture.

Ellen Hardy

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