Learning English - Words in the News
04 January, 2006 - Published 17:46 GMT
CITES, the United Nations organisation which controls trade in endangered species, has effectively banned all international trade in caviar and other wild sturgeon products. The ban will remain until it can agree export quotas with the nations which produce them. This report from Elizabeth Blunt.
Caviar is expensive because it is scarce, and it is scarce, at least in part, because it is so expensive. Prices as high as four hundred dollars for a small tin of the salty, black fish-eggs have encouraged massive overfishing of the sturgeon and widespread caviar smuggling. Add to this the fact that sturgeon are slow-growing and long-lived fish and take several years to reach maturity, and it is easy to see why populations have plummeted.
The legal export of caviar is already tightly regulated, with the countries which share the sturgeon fishing grounds having to agree export quotas each year in consultation with CITES. It is this process which has now broken down.
A CITES spokesman said that recent information indicated that the sturgeon species were in serious decline and the proposed quotas -- although lower than in previous years -- still didn't sufficiently reflect the lower stocks or allow for the amount lost to illegal fishing. He said countries wishing to export caviar had to demonstrate that their proposed catch and exports were sustainable in the long term, and without more information on this, CITES could not approve any quotas for 2006.
Since caviar has to be exported in the same calendar year in which the fish is caught, that effectively puts a ban on all international trade in caviar from wild fish until further notice.
widespread caviar smuggling
populations have plummeted
sustainable in the long term
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