Caspian States agree on quotas for wild caviar

July 26, 2010 09:06
The Secretariat of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) has published the export quotas for caviar and other sturgeon products agreed by the Caspian States for 2010, reports with reference to CITES. 

The 2010 quotas were agreed by Azerbaijan, the Islamic Republic of Iran, Kazakhstan, the Russian Federation and Turkmenistan during a meeting held in Tehran.

The quota year for export of caviar and sturgeon meat runs from 1 March 2010 to 28 February 2011, in order to reflect the fishing season. The quantities that can be exported are lower than in 2008, when export quotas were last published.

"The CITES quota system has resulted in the five Caspian Sea States agreeing on common management objectives, as part of a concerted response to improve the state of depleted stocks," said CITES Secretary-General Mr John Scanlon. "The setting of these export quotas once again demonstrates the value of CITES in addressing conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity in an effective and practical manner," he added.

The countries that share the Black Sea and Lower Danube sturgeon populations (Bulgaria, Romania and Serbia) and the Heilongjiang/Amur River population (China and the Russian Federation) have not yet informed the CITES Secretariat about their quotas for this year.

Under an agreement reached by the CITES member States in 2002, countries that share a stock of sturgeons have a zero export quota until they reach consensus on a sustainable level of exports.

In 2009, the lack of agreement between the five Caspian countries resulted in a suspension of wild caviar imports from those countries.

Additional background

As caviar stocks continued to decline through the 1990s, the Parties to CITES decided to place all sturgeon species that remained unlisted on its Appendix II, meaning that international trade in them requires government approval, based on scientific advice. This decision came into effect on 1 April 1998. Since then, all exports of caviar and other sturgeon products have had to comply with CITES provisions, including the use of export permits and specific labelling requirements.

 In 2001, CITES responded to high levels of poaching and illegal trade in the Caspian Sea by agreeing to a temporary ban on international trade in wild caviar and other sturgeon products.

To have their proposed quotas published, countries with shared sturgeon stocks must agree amongst themselves on catch and export quotas based on scientific surveys of the stocks. They must also adopt a regional conservation strategy, combat illegal fishing and provide details of the scientific data used to establish the catch and export quotas.

The CITES regime requires caviar and other sturgeon products to be sold during the quota year in which the fish are harvested and processed. Because caviar is also a popular local delicacy in many countries where the fish are caught, they also focus on their controls over domestic trade.

Reduced supplies of caviar from the wild have led to the establishment of aquaculture facilities for sturgeon in many countries. But it is important to maintain a sustainable wild catch of these fish as an incentive for conserving them.

Note to journalists:  For more information, please Juan-Carlos Vasquez at +41-22-917-8156 or See also .

Annual Export quotas (in kg) for specimens from shared stocks of wild sturgeon species
included in Appendix II for 1 March 2010 to 28 February 2011



Islamic Republic of Iran


Russian Federation


Acipenser gueldenstaedtii

3 360 kg

1 000 kg

3 070 kg

19 500 kg

0 kg

A. nudiventris


0 kg

0 kg



A. persicus


34 000 kg

0 kg



A. ruthenus




0 kg


A. stellatus

3 000 kg

2 944 kg

8 500 kg

2 600 kg

0 kg

Huso huso (Beluga)

0 kg

800 kg

1 500 kg

700 kg

0 kg

** no quota proposed, therefore zero quota to be allocated.

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