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WWF Urges Russia to Ban Caviar Exports
By Wendy Heller, February 2, 2008 @ 02:00 AM (EST)
Source: Panda.org
Russia should stop exporting caviar to help save the threatened sturgeon population, says WWF-Russia.

“There is an obvious contradiction between bans on domestic caviar sales and commercial caviar harvesting on the one hand, and maintaining export quotas for caviar on the other,” said Alexey Vaisman of the wildlife trade monitoring network TRAFFIC, a joint programme of WWF and the World Conservation Union (IUCN).

WWF is urging the Russian government to withdraw its application for an export quota and put a moratorium on caviar exports for at least 5 years in order to help the threatened sturgeon populations.

Last year, Russia introduced a ban on retail sale of caviar and obligatory destruction of all confiscated caviar. This year, quotas for the Caspian basin were restricted to form mature spawning schools at breeding farms and for scientific research.

However, this year again, Russia has declared an export quota to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

According to scientific reports, Beluga, Starry and Russian sturgeon populations almost entirely consist of fish spawning for the first time, because legal and illegal caviar harvesting has eliminated virtually all mature spawning sturgeons.

Last year, the catch quota for Russian Sturgeon in the Caspian basin was 110 tons, from which, 12 tons of caviar at most can be extracted. However, Russia’s export quota for 2007 equalled 20 tons of caviar.

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