Science saves a delicacy: The great caviar revolution

The Fish Site
by The Fish Site
2 October 2006, at 1:00am

UK - The sturgeon is endangered and the export of wild caviar is banned. There is, though, an alternative to black market fare. Peter Popham investigates the rise and rise of the farmed variety. A rich, loamy smell fills the air along the narrow road that leads to Agroittica, a fish farm outside Brescia. A huge steel plant pumps water to the 60 hectare farm where half a million white sturgeon swim in well-filtered, gravel-bottomed tanks. When it was built, in the 1970s, Agroittica was intended as an eel-breeding plant. But now it is something very different. No one planned it this way, and no one would have predicted it but, bucking all the trends and defying all the critics, it has become the world's largest caviar farm. And business has never been so good. This year, for the first time, the export of wild caviar from practically all the countries in which it is produced has been completely banned by Cites, the UN organisation whose remit is to regulate the trade in endangered species. No export licences at all were granted for Russia and Kazakhstan, the principal sources, and only limited quantities of Iranian osetra caviar were exempted. Source: The Independent