Report: Caspian Ban Gives Iran a Caviar Corner
The UN's wildlife-protection arm on Thursday banned the fishing of sturgeon from most of the Caspian Sea and its rivers as of next year, leaving Iran with a monopoly on legal caviar until the other four countries that border the sea prove they are stemming the massive poaching trade, said a report by the International Herald Tribune.
Ken Stansell, chairman of the meeting of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species held in Paris, was quoted as saying that CITES would review the progress made by Russia, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan at another meeting at the end of the year before authorizing any more international trade in caviar and sturgeon meat.
In Astrakhan, a pleasant city on the Volga River, where 70 percent of the Caspian sturgeon mate, the reaction was a mixture of indignation, hope and relief.
"It's not fair to ban fishing in Russia and Kazakhstan but not Iran," said Vladimir Ivanov, the soft-spoken director of the Caspian Fisheries Research Institute. Only two-thirds of Iran's export quota are fish bred in Iranian hatcheries, he pointed out; the rest are born in the wild or in Russian hatcheries.
"But I hope this will motivate the Caspian nations to finally sign the agreement they had prepared back in 1995," he added. It provides for the creation of a joint force made up of law-enforcement officials from five countries - considered less vulnerable to bribery than national forces - to staff anti-poaching patrols in the Caspian Sea, where most of the overfishing is taking place.
Iran, whose quota of 86 tons is larger than Russia's and Kazakhstan's combined, was excluded because two thirds of its catch are of a species that spends its entire life along the Iranian coastline.
It is generally estimated here that for every fish taken legally, 12 are taken by poachers, and most of the caviar is sold in Russia.
"There is plenty of sturgeon in the Caspian," Mironov insisted. "It's just that the poachers are fishing it and not us." – Albawaba.com
© 2001 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)