Iran and Russia, the world's two major caviar-producing nations, want to work together to combat the smuggling of the delicacy from the Caspian Sea, reported Iran News Agency (IRNA), quoting Iranian construction minister, Mohammad Saidi-Kia as saying during a visit to Moscow.
"We highlighted the need to cooperate to prevent illegal fishing and especially to fight against caviar smuggling," the minister said.
During meetings in Moscow, Saidi-Kia said the two countries reached cooperation agreements in a number of areas, including fishing, livestock breeding and natural resources such as forests.
Iran's caviar industry has been declining, with 1999 production of the sturgeon eggs at 100 tons, down from 300 tons a decade ago, said AFP.
The breakup of the Soviet Union, which tightly regulated its caviar industry, created three new Caspian countries -- Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan -- which Iran says have developed their own caviar industry without any restrictions.
In particular they have failed to check illegal fishing and allowed nets of too small a mesh, bringing the sea's sturgeon population down from 200 million in 1990 to 60 million five years later, said AFP.
The Caspian's resources have also been harmed by pollution from the sea's growing oil industry.
Iran releases 20 million sturgeon fry into the sea each year and tries to protect the young population by banning fine fishing nets, according to AFP - (Several Sources)
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