Geneva, 18 May 2001
Trade in pressed caviar and isinglass
1. The subject of trade in pressed caviar was raised at the first meeting on conservation and enforcement issues relating to sturgeon, held in Moscow, Russian Federation, in January 1998. The participants were told that pressed caviar comprised the eggs of several sturgeon species and that it was what remained after the processing and preparation of other, higher quality products. Delegates acknowledged that it might be difficult to identify accurately the composition of pressed caviar, for the purposes of issuing CITES permits or certificates authorizing shipments of such products. They did not, however, reach any conclusion as to how this matter should be dealt with.
2. In the years since trade in caviar came under CITES regulation, the subject of pressed caviar has not come to notice until very recently and the Secretariat knows of only one case that has caused concern. Additionally, however, the Secretariat has recently been asked for guidance relating to trade in isinglass, which is also a product made from several species of sturgeon. Isinglass is a form of fish glue used to clarify beer, wine and champagne and is also used in the restoration of antiques.
3. The Secretariat believes that, when authorizing trade in these products, it would be sufficient for a Management Authority to issue an export permit or re-export certificate specifying each of the species whose eggs are included in the batch of pressed caviar or isinglass being traded and the total quantity authorized for export or re-export. It should also be clearly stated that the product is pressed caviar or isinglass. It is essential that all the species should be specified because several importing countries now use DNA profiling to validate caviar and sturgeon product shipments. The Secretariat is of the opinion that it is not acceptable simply to use the term ‘Acipenser spp.’ on permits and certificates.
4. It acknowledges, however, that Resolution Conf. 11.13 (Universal labelling system for the identification of caviar) makes no provision for shipments in which the specimens from several species are mixed together, such as pressed caviar and isinglass. The Secretariat suggests, therefore, that the code ‘MIX’ should be used on labels for such shipments.
5. The Secretariat further suggests that, in future, countries that intend to authorize export of pressed caviar or isinglass should establish export quotas for these products, if they do not already do so.
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