BBC Homepage World Service Education
BBC Homepagelow graphics version | feedback | help
BBC News Online
 You are in: World: Europe
Front Page 
World 
Africa 
Americas 
Asia-Pacific 
Europe 
Middle East 
South Asia 
-------------
From Our Own Correspondent 
-------------
Letter From America 
UK 
UK Politics 
Business 
Sci/Tech 
Health 
Education 
Entertainment 
Talking Point 
In Depth 
AudioVideo 


BBC's Moscow correspondent Andrew Harding
"This year the fish and their precious eggs haven't appeared"
 real 28k

Thursday, 25 May, 2000, 16:56 GMT 17:56 UK
Caspian crisis cuts caviar catch
Caviar for sale - at a price
Russian caviar stocks are dwindling fast
Gourmets are going to have to pay a lot more for their black caviar this year - if they can find it at all.

Russia says it may have to stop exporting the expensive delicacy for the first time in a century.

Officials blame bad weather, poaching and pollution for the dwindling numbers of sturgeon - the fish whose eggs produce one of the world's priciest gourmet treats.

Russian fishermen on the Volga River catch around 20% of the world's black caviar, tearing it out of the bellies of giant sturgeon, a species as old as the dinosaurs.

Not spawning

But this year, fewer fish are coming into the Volga delta from the Caspian Sea to spawn.


Caviar facts
Caspian sturgeon's three species - sevruga, beluga, osciotr
Best (and most expensive) - beluga
Eaten Russian-style on thin pancakes (blinis) washed down with vodka
Or on thin toast with champagne
Caviar production, which is tightly controlled by the government and the international community, could well drop to less than a third of the annual quota.

Vladimir Izmailov of the Russian Fisheries Committee said exports might be suspended altogether.

Price doubled

The price on the international market doubled last year to almost $1,460 a kilo, and could rise even further.

The black market price in Moscow is around a tenth of the official price.

The fish are now protected by an international treaty, but in countries like Russia, the poachers are often more powerful and better equipped than the police.

Moscow' dominance in the world market is currently threatened by Iran and Azerbaijan on the southern coast of the Caspian Sea.

Search BBC News Online

Advanced search options
Launch console
BBC RADIO NEWS
BBC ONE TV NEWS
WORLD NEWS SUMMARY
PROGRAMMES GUIDE
See also:

Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Europe stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Europe stories