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Learning English - Words in the News
04 January, 2006 - Published 17:46 GMT
Caviar ban

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.

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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.

Listen to the words

only available in small amounts because there isn’t much of this thing

here, persuaded, made it more likely that something would happen

catching too many fish (this creates a danger that eventually there will be no fish left to catch)

widespread caviar smuggling
many people involved in secretly and illegally taking or sending this product from one country to another country

living or surviving for a long time

populations have plummeted
the number of sturgeon has fallen very quickly, over a short period of time

tightly regulated
strictly controlled by many rules

broken down
something that no longer functions or works

lower stocks
reduced number of fish

sustainable in the long term
being able to continue in the future

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