International caviar trade halted to save sturgeon

Oh, man, this is going to cramp our style at Grist staff parties: A global ban on international export of wild caviar — salty black sturgeon eggs prized by gourmets — took effect on Tuesday. The U.N. Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species nixed the lucrative trade, worth about $100 million a year, to try and save overfished sturgeon stocks from extinction. Parties to CITES, including the U.S., must eschew caviar imports, while 10 caviar-exporting countries including China, Iran, and Russia will have to demonstrate effective fish-management plans before the U.N. reopens international trade. Such plans must account for the rampant poaching that feeds the black market for beluga-sturgeon caviar, which has roughly doubled in price in the past year to about $200 an ounce (tell us about it!). This is the third time since 2001 that international caviar trade has been halted in hopes of preserving sturgeon. Obviously it’s working like a charm.