Fishing bans: Sturgeon on the brink of extinction

The sturgeon that produce black caviar are being farmed in numbers around the world.
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Poised to celebrate New Year's Eve globally, perhaps those little black eggs of delight are on the menu at the more salubrious establishments and parties? Well savour every morsel, because according to Russian fisheries, the black caviar producing sturgeon is on the brink of extinction.

Taking action to protect its most beloved and lucrative fish, which according to scientists are one of the world’s oldest species going back 250 million years, having survived the dinosaurs, the countries that catch the sturgeon have agreed to a ban.

Russia and all other countries that border the Caspian Sea have agreed to stop fishing black-caviar-producing sturgeon in the area because the fish is on the brink of extinction, Russian officials stated last week.

The ban, which was also agreed with Kazakhstan, Iran, Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan, will go into effect on January 1 for one year and may be prolonged for up to five years, Russia’s Federal Fisheries Agency said.

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Russia had banned commercial sturgeon fishing in the Caspian in 2002, but still permits a minimal annual catch. Female sturgeon, including the prized beluga, are among the most valuable fish and are harvested for their black roe, sold internationally for about $2.50 a gram.

An agreement on sustainable fishing in the Caspian is now being finalized for signing by the heads of all five states at a summit next year in the southern Russian city of Astrakhan, said a spokesman for Russia’s fishing agency.

Throughout the 20th century, the Caspian Sea provided more than 90 percent of the world’s annual sturgeon catch, but overfishing after the collapse of the Soviet Union has decimated the species.

Repopulation is expected to be slow because female sturgeon can take decades to reach sexual maturity and incredibly, sturgeons have been known to live for more than 100 years.
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