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Following 2006 ban, CITES
authorizes 2007 quotas for
all Caspian Sea caviar except beluga
Geneva, 2 January 2007 – The Secretariat of the Convention
on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and
Flora (CITES) has today published the export quotas for caviar
and other sturgeon products from the Caspian for 2007.
The publication of 2007 quotas contrasts with the situation
in 2006, when the Secretariat did not publish caviar quotas for
the Caspian Sea’s sturgeon fisheries because the five States
concerned – Azerbaijan, the Islamic Republic of Iran, Kazakhstan,
the Russian Federation and Turkmenistan – did not provide
sufficient information about the sustainability of their sturgeon
Recognizing that sturgeon stocks have declined in recent years,
the States bordering the Caspian Sea agreed amongst themselves
to reduce the combined catch quotas for the Sea’s six sturgeon
species by an average of 20 % compared with 2005, with reductions
of one third for some
In line with these reductions, the combined quotas for caviar
exports are 15 % lower than for 2005, the last year for which
quotas were published. Quotas for caviar exports from Persian
and stellate sturgeon have been reduced by over 25 %, while quotas
for caviar from Russian sturgeon have risen by 23 % (see the table).
The fact that the catch quotas have been reduced more than the
caviar quotas is largely due to the decision by the Russian Federation
to use fewer of the fish it catches for restocking hatcheries
and a higher percentage for caviar exports.
It has not been possible to publish quotas for beluga, the world’s
most valuable caviar, because the information provided by the
five range States is not yet complete. Tasked by the CITES member
states with ensuring that all required criteria and procedures
for publishing sturgeon and caviar quotas have been met, the Secretariat
has granted the range States an additional month to provide the
missing information before a final decision is made.
“The decision taken by CITES last year not to publish
caviar quotas has undoubtedly helped to spur improvements to the
monitoring programmes and scientific assessments carried out jointly
by the five Caspian neighbours”, said CITES Secretary-General
“However, ensuring that sturgeon stocks recover to safe
levels will take decades of careful fisheries management and an
unrelenting struggle against poaching and illegal trade. The income
earned from the sale of sturgeon products in 2007 should provide
both an incentive and the means to pursue the long-term recovery
of this commercially and ecologically valuable natural resource,”
Meanwhile, recognizing that sturgeon stocks in the Black Sea/lower
Danube River have been seriously depleted, Bulgaria, Romania,
Serbia and Ukraine have requested zero quotas for 2007. While
Serbia requested a small quota for Beluga caviar exports, no quota
has been published owing to a lack of agreement amongst the range
In the case of the Heilongjiang/Amur River on the Sino-Russian
border, a fishery shared by China and the Russian Federation,
the Secretariat is seeking further clarification of information
submitted by the States concerned and has not been able to publish
a quota at this stage.
Mr. Wijnstekers added, "Although many of the measures adopted
by CITES are aimed at exporting countries, importers also have
important obligations. They must ensure that all imports are from
legal sources, and they must establish registration systems for
their domestic processing and repackaging plants and rules for
the labelling of repackaged caviar".
As caviar stocks continued to decline through the 1990s, the
Parties to CITES decided to place all sturgeon species that remained
unlisted on its Appendix II as of 1 April 1998. Since then, all
exports of caviar and other sturgeon products have had to comply
with strict CITES provisions,
including the use of permits and specific labelling requirements.
In 2001, CITES responded to high levels of poaching and illegal
trade in the Caspian Sea by agreeing to a temporary ban. Extensive
discussions and stronger actions by the range States were required
before the annual quotas could be agreed for 2002 to 2005. The
Secretariat was unable to publish quotas for 2006.
With the agreement of the sturgeon range States, the rules on
how to set quotas under CITES have become increasingly rigorous.
To have their proposed quotas published, countries with shared
sturgeon stocks must agree amongst themselves on catch and export
quotas based on scientific surveys of the stocks. They must also
adopt a regional conservation strategy, combat illegal fishing
and demonstrate that their proposed catch and export quotas reflect
current population trends and are sustainable.
The CITES regime requires caviar and other sturgeon products
to be sold during the same calendar year in which the fish are
caught. Because caviar is also a popular local delicacy in many
of these countries, they must also focus on strengthening their
controls over domestic trade in sturgeon.
Reduced supplies of caviar from the wild have encouraged many
countries to establish aquaculture facilities for sturgeon, but
in order to preserve incentives for the conservation of wild sturgeon
stocks it is important to maintain a catch of these fish at sustainable
The CITES Secretariat is administered by the United Nations
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