April 5, 2010
Last week I posted something about a rumour, that the Russians want to convince their Caspian Sea border states members to pass a 10-year fishing ban in order to restore the tiny sturgeon wild-stocks in the region.
Now, after I cheered to that for a while as a gone-mad-greenpeace-disciple, I had to make one step back and reflect about what actually hangs in the air. Let’s be clear, even if the direction might be right, a 10-year fishing ban doesn’t bring these critically endangered sturgeons to their well-deserved bright future. Because of their slow maturation – wild sturgeons lay their eggs at the age of aprox. 15 years old (depending the species) – some scientist suggest a ban of at least four decades to be effective! And there is just no way, that any fishing and/or customs authority (might it be legal or corrupt) of the bordering states is up and ready to sacrifice some additional pocket-$$$.
As far as I know, only the Japanese know how to follow plans that take 50 long years to play out. And I am talking about ‘A’ and not ‘B’ plans. I just dont see how the Russians (not talking about the rest) could manage such an undertaking.
And even if they would declare such ban, let me put it in the words of sturgeon expert and conservationist Phaedra Doukakis: “The challenge for Russia is the vastness of the Volga River Delta. It won’t just take this moratorium, it will also take a pretty good crackdown on illegal fishing.”
And about that ’10-year ban rumour’ I mentioned, the latest that I picked up in the internet void was, that they reduced it to 5 years. Don’t act surprised…
Read original article.
March 26, 2010
A glory day for all conservationists and environmentalists around the world!
Finally, wild life protection through international law enforcement agencies gets a higher priority!
Yesterday was the closing date for the 15th Conference of the Parties being held in Doha, Qatar and organised by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). There are flashing lights pointing into a new, better organised and more strict law enforcement era for bringing wildlife criminal to justice. Behind bars, where they belong. Aiming to introduce this era is the recently-formed International Consortium on Combating Wildlife Crime (ICCWC). Made up of the CITES Secretariat, INTERPOL, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, the World Bank and the World Customs Organization. Wow!
Let me quote Willem Wijnstekers, Secretary-General of the CITES: “We are determined that there will be a level playing field and that a new era of wildlife law enforcement is introduced. An era where those who rob countries and communities of their natural resources will face a determined and formidable opposition. It is high time that more wildlife criminals end up behind bars, where they belong.”
Read full CITES press release: Bringing an organized response to organized wildlife crime
In addition to these measures, there seems to exist the rumor that the Russians want to convince all the Caspian Sea states to pass a respective general fishing ban in the entire Caspian Sea for the duration of 10yrs. Yes, that’s right. Not only for sturgeon species, but for all fish stocks. This would be the only realistic time frame so that the existing sturgeon wild populations could recover their stocks. Lets all cross fingers for that!
March 25, 2010
This is BIG NEWS! The International Union for Conservation of Nature is putting sturgeon species on their Red List.
Following an extract from a recent press release from the IUCN:
Eighty five percent of sturgeon, one of the oldest families of fishes in existence, valued around the world for their precious roe, are at risk of extinction, making them the most threatened group of animals on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™. The latest update of the Red List assessed the status of 18 species of sturgeon from all over Europe and Asia and found that all were threatened.
To read full article
February 4, 2010
“Russian police have seized 1.4 tons of sturgeon and 9 kg of caviar in two separate incidents, police said on Friday.
“The fish were discovered on Thursday in a Mitsubishi Canter truck” a police spokesman in the Far East city of Khabarovsk said.
Poachers target the fish, protected under Russian law, for its sought-after black caviar.
In another incident on Thursday, Russian South Ural police seized 9 kilograms of caviar in the restaurant carriage of a Moscow-Tashkent train.
Police said that Uzbek nationals were attempting to export the caviar from Russia illegally.
In Russia, one kilogram of the black sturgeon caviar costs around 35,000 rubles ($1,152).”
Original article: RIA Novosti
November 30, 2009
Russian police have seized nearly 10 tons of black market salmon caviar, a police spokesman said on Thursday.
According to police, the caviar was supplied to Moscow Region chain stores.
The spokesman added that an investigation is ongoing.
“The caviar was packed in unsanitary conditions,” he said, adding that all the caviar had been destroyed. Police also seized a canning machine.
Salmon caviar, or red caviar, is not as highly prized as black caviar from sturgeon.
Read original article here
October 15, 2009
(Excerpt) “Good news for shovelnose sturgeon may be bad news for this region’s commercial fishermen, who sell them to make caviar.The shovelnose are not endangered, but their relatives, the pallid sturgeon, are. Because a young pallid can be mistaken for a shovelnose, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recently proposed declaring the shovelnose a threatened species in areas where the two types overlap, giving it regulatory authority.”
Click here to read full article!
August 10, 2009
Just found an interesting article on the Ria Novosti site that I want to share with you…
“Police in Astrakhan, south Russia, have destroyed more than 300 kg (661 lbs) of illegal black caviar, the regional administration reported on Monday.
“Two thousand tins of black caviar were crushed by a bulldozer and buried at the city dump,” the administration said.
The caviar was seized in 2008 from an underground store, investigation officials said.
“An examination of the caviar indicated that although it was packed into branded tins with bright labels and considered ready for sale, it was a health risk,” the Department of Internal Affairs reported.
On July 1, police burnt more then 250 kg (551 lbs) of contraband black caviar worth more then 30 million rubles ($960,000). The caviar infected with staphylococcus bacteria was seized from Moscow shops during a special police operation.
In 2007 Russia banned the harvest and sale of black caviar which extended the 2002 ban on commercial sturgeon fishing in the Caspian Sea.
The Caspian Sea sturgeon, caught in five coastal states (Russia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Iran) accounts for almost 90% of the world’s black caviar. According to Russian experts, it will take at least 10 years to restore the sturgeon population in Russian waters.”
With the current ban on commercial sturgeon fishing, caviarists around the world should refrain from buying any caviar coming from the Caspian Sea. But thats not a downer, as there exist today quality wise very good (if not better) alternatives to the wild caviar coming from the Caspian Sea. And one recommendable option is surely ZwyerCaviar.
May 15, 2009
Enforcement action against illegal caviar traders in Sweden is paying dividends, with just two tins of illicit caviar discovered by County regulators between 2006 and 2008, and the conviction in December 2008 of the two retailers for illegally selling caviar. They were fined a total of SEK22,200 (USD2,500).
The clampdown on illegal caviar in Sweden began in 2005, mainly in Uppsala and Stockholm. In November, 21 tins of osetra, sevruga and beluga caviar were confiscated in Uppsala. In court, it was revealed the caviar had come from Estonia via Finland and was half the normal price and lacked appropriate documentation.
In Gothenburg the same month, police confiscated 12 tins of caviar from three different retailers, who were similarly unable to produce the correct documentation. All were subsequently convicted of selling illegal caviar and fined a total of SEK11,400 (USD1,300).
The cases attracted high media attention, with fish retailers claiming they were unaware of the legislation. Subsequently, the relevant Swedish trade association contacted its members to inform them about the rules covering the caviar trade.
“Thanks to the authorities and the high profile media coverage, fish retailers and traders in Sweden are all aware of the regulations concerning caviar, and the illegal trade has been reduced significantly,” commented Mats Forslund, TRAFFIC Europe’s representative based in Sweden.
Original article taken from Traffic.org – the wildlife trade monitoring network
May 1, 2009
“Days after caviar purveyor Max Moghaddam and his company Bemka Corp. were sentenced Feb. 25 in U.S. District Court for exporting American paddlefish roe without permits, he filed an appeal and is seeking a new trial.
Moghaddam, who maintains his innocence in a prepared statement sent to Gourmet News, was sentenced to 18 months in prison, fined $100,000 and ordered to serve three years probation. Bemka, which operates under the name Bemka House of Caviar and Fine Food, was sentenced to pay a criminal fine of $200,000 and four years probation. About $122,000 worth of American paddlefish roe was seized by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Moghaddam and his company Bemka Corp. of Fort Lauderdale, were found guilty by a federal jury Dec. 4, 2008, for their involvement in conspiracy, false labeling of export shipments and the illegal export of the internationally protected fish roe during the period from July 2005 through April 2007.
Since 1992, American paddlefish has been listed for protection under the international treaty known as the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora. More than 170 countries cooperate in the enforcement of the provisions of CITES.
It is illegal to export the American paddlefish roe without CITES permits, and while Moghaddam and Bemka had obtained CITES permits in the past, there was not one on file for the shipment in question, noted Brian Roland, special agent with U.S. Fish and Wildlife office of law enforcement.
According to the USFWS, the American paddlefish was falsely described on shipping invoices and customs documents as bowfin roe.
In a March 3 statement sent to Gourmet News, Moghaddam maintains there was a mistake on the part of the export department. In the July 2008 issue of Gourmet News, Moghaddam said the charges stem from an April 2007 sample shipment to the European Seafood Expo. Admitting the paddlefish roe was accidentally mislabeled as bowfin roe, he said he knows every container is checked, and that anyone could tell the difference between the light to dark gray paddlefish roe and the black bowfin roe.
Roland said “the evidence presented at trial showed that the paddlefish roe Bemka received had the paddlefish label removed and bowfin labels had been applied.”
Moghaddam plead not guilty at the four-day trial that started Dec. 1, 2008.”
Article taken from Gourmetnews.com (registration necessary!)
Read older blogpost about the ‘Bemka-trial’
April 27, 2009
“Tennessee Tech University professor and U.S. Geological Survey researcher Phil Bettoli and colleagues accompanied commercial fishermen in Tennessee during the 2007 fishing season and estimated that hundreds of large, mature pallid sturgeon have been illegally harvested in recent years for their eggs, which are highly valued as caviar, according to a recently released report that will appear in February in the Journal of Applied Ichthyology.
“Researchers who have studied pallid sturgeon and sought ways to prevent the species from going extinct have long suspected that illegal fishing was undermining government efforts to save the species,” explained Bettoli.
Commercial fishermen are not necessarily targeting pallid sturgeon, one of the largest and most primitive fish plying the Mississippi River basin. Instead, they target the smaller, more numerous shovelnose sturgeon, a closely related species that can be legally harvested for its caviar.
Unprocessed shovelnose sturgeon eggs fetch more than $100 per pound, and the processed caviar is subsequently sold for $12-21 per ounce.
However, the two species share some of the same habitats and are notoriously difficult to tell apart in the field. Definitive identification requires DNA analysis or sophisticated statistical models to analyze external anatomy.
Bettoli and colleagues at Tennessee Tech and Southern Illinois University do not claim that pallid sturgeon face extinction in Mississippi River waters. But they did publish conclusions that could affect the shovelnose sturgeon caviar fisheries, which in Tennessee can range as high as $200,000 a year in value.
“Allowing the harvest of pallid sturgeon to continue is inconsistent with the long running, extensive recovery efforts undertaken by state and federal agencies stretching from Louisiana to Montana, costing millions of dollars annually,” said Bettoli.
In addition, the researchers got a glimpse of a poorly documented phenomenon: ghost nets. These lost nets keep catching and killing fish for years and have been recognized as a serious threat to sturgeon recovery efforts along the Atlantic and Pacific coasts. Tennessee sturgeon fishermen admitted that losing nets is not uncommon when fishing the Mississippi River.
Based on these and other findings, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is considering whether to step in and close all sturgeon fishing in the Tennessee waters of the Mississippi River under the Similarity of Appearance clause of the Endangered Species Act.
“The pressure to act is increasing because the worldwide demand for caviar is high (as are the prices the eggs fetch), domestic and foreign supplies of caviar are shrinking, and pallid sturgeon are still a long way from ever making it off the endangered species list,” said Bettoli.”
Article taken from underwatertimes.com