of the media only;
not an official document.
CITES has not “banned”
caviar or “punished” producers
A response to recent press articles
on CITES quotas for sturgeon and caviar
3 September 2004 – In recent days various newspapers have
published articles on caviar based on an interview with the CITES
Secretariat. These articles have contained a number of errors and
misquotes that are likely to have misled readers about the current
situation concerning the 2004 quotas for international trade in
sturgeon and caviar.
Because the Caspian Sea produces some 90% of world caviar, the
articles focused in particular on that region. The actual situation
today is, in brief, as follows: CITES responded to high levels of
poaching and illegal trade in 2001 by halting the caviar trade by
Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Russia and Turkmenistan under the so-called
Paris Agreement. It gave these countries until the end of that year
to conduct a scientific survey of stocks and to start developing
a common management plan. The fifth Caspian state, Iran, was not
subject to the caviar ban, but, commendably, joined the regional
The Paris Agreement established three deadlines for taking steps
that would lead to the resumption of trade. Because the various
anti-poaching and other actions specified in the first two deadlines
were met, CITES agreed to sturgeon and caviar trade quotas for the
Caspian States in 2002 and 2003.
In November 2002, the member States of CITES developed a list
of conservation measures for all of the world’s sturgeons.
These measures were derived from the obligations detailed in the
Paris Agreement and were formalized in Resolution Conf. 12.7 (see
This Resolution requires all sturgeon-producing nations that share
stocks to develop coordinated conservation management plans and
to ensure that all catch and export quotas are based on these plans
and on recent stock assessments. Importantly, the CITES Secretariat
cannot publish a country’s annual quotas unless it is satisfied
that this country as well as the other States with which it shares
stocks have complied fully with the requirements of the Resolution.
To date, none of the world’s sturgeon range States has complied
fully with the ‘Sturgeon Resolution’ and, hence, the
CITES Secretariat has not published any wild sturgeon quotas for
2004. These facts are presented on the CITES website (see http://www.cites.org/eng/resources/quotas/sturgeon_intro.shtml).
It should be noted that the 2003 quotas were not issued until late
September of that year.
The CITES Secretariat, which has been mandated by the CITES member
States to oversee this process, continues to work with all sturgeon-producing
States to help them implement the required measures as soon as possible.
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