Enviros Object to Renewed Trade in Caspian Sea Caviar

Controversy is brewing over a plan to allow the resumption of beluga caviar exports from the Caspian Sea. Concerned about declining numbers of beluga sturgeon, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species banned caviar trade in Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Russia, and Turkmenistan in 2001, but now CITES officials are lifting the ban, saying stocks are recovering. An alliance of conservation groups is protesting the move, arguing that beluga stocks are still declining sharply and need protection. “The quota for beluga caviar exports should be zero,” said Ellen Pikitch, a marine biologist and Wildlife Conservation Society officer. “Any number above that is unwise and unsustainable.” The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is considering a request from environmentalists to list beluga sturgeon as an endangered species in the U.S.