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UN body launches database to tackle illegal caviar trade
By Wendy Heller, December 1, 2007 @ 02:00 AM (EST)
Source: Ap.org

The United Nations watchdog on endangered species said Friday it is launching a database to track the international trade in caviar and tackle its illegal trade.

The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species said the database will record details of all permits and certificates that authorize trade in caviar, and will help detect and deter fraudulent applications.

"This is an important tool in our battle to save sturgeons and fight criminals who seek to over exploit a number of species of great conservation concern," CITES Secretary General Willem Wijnstekers said.

Legal export of caviar has fallen in recent years as wild sturgeon stocks have declined.

Earlier this year, CITES said that states bordering the Caspian Sea agreed to reduce their catch quotas by 29 percent compared to 2005 levels, allowing the export of 3.76 tonnes of Beluga caviar this year.

However, CITES "continues to receive frequent evidence of illegal caviar trade, including in Beluga," the organisation said in a statement.

CITES first imposed caviar trade controls in 1998, after a decline in sturgeon stocks following the break-up of the Soviet Union.

Fishing had increased with the end of communist-era restrictions, raising fears among environmentalists that sturgeon would be wiped out.



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