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Russia Lifts Ban On Caviar Exports To Europe

RUSSIA - Russia has rescinded its long-standing ban on the export of black caviar to Europe due to recent successes in cultivating sturgeon on fish farms.

The ban went into effect in 2002 as part of a campaign to combat overfishing and poaching of sturgeon in the Caspian and Azov Seas. The lifting of the ban indicates Russia’s attempts to improve the situation, which include an aggressive aquaculture campaign and increased crackdowns on illegal fishing, have been successful.

Caspian and Azov sturgeon were once the main source of black caviar on the world market. With the fall of the Soviet Union, however, the caviar business became dominated by poachers, and the sturgeon was almost completely decimated. Statistics from WWF Russia show that in 2010, the sturgeon population was one-fortieth what it had been in the late 1980s.

The only caviar available for purchase legally today is from fish raised on farms. Russia began some time ago to artificially cultivate the coveted fish, but as it takes seven years to raise a sturgeon, results of the campaign are only now being seen. In 2009, Russian fish farms produced around 2.6 tons of black caviar. Over the next five years, Russian fish farms are expected to increase deliveries of caviar to both the domestic and foreign markets.

the Fish Site Editor

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