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Last Updated: Tuesday, 2 January 2007, 16:29 GMT
UN lifts embargo on caviar trade
A man prepares to cut open a sturgeon
Sturgeon stocks are still falling
The United Nations has lifted a ban on the sale of caviar, the treasured delicacy that is in serious decline.

An almost total ban was imposed a year ago because the fish from which caviar is taken, the sturgeon, is disappearing rapidly in the Caspian Sea.

Five countries bordering the Caspian will now be allowed to resume fishing.

The UN agency, Cites, published quotas for all types of caviar for 2007, but postponed a decision on beluga, the most expensive variety.

Virtually all trade in caviar was banned last year because the main producers - Azerbaijan, Iran, Kazakhstan, Russia and Turkmenistan - failed to meet Cites' requirements, like providing details of stock levels.

Although sturgeon stocks are still falling, the five countries will be allowed to sell 96 tons of caviar in 2007 - 15% below the level set in 2005.

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"The decision taken by Cites last year not to publish caviar quotas has undoubtedly helped to spur improvements to the monitoring programmes and scientific assessments," Cites Secretary General Willem Wijnstekers said in a statement.

Some 90% of the world's caviar comes from the Caspian Sea.

But the illegal trade in caviar, which can sell for up to $9,500 (4,800) per kg, is thought to be as big as the legitimate one.

It is estimated that caviar stocks fell by up to 90% in the early 1990s because of over-fishing, raising fears that sturgeon would be wiped out.


SEE ALSO
Sturgeon farmers cash in on caviar
26 Apr 06 |  Business
International caviar trade banned
03 Jan 06 |  Business
Lean times for Iran caviar fishermen
14 Nov 05 |  Middle East
Bleak future for Kazakh caviar
24 Dec 04 |  Business
Caviar producers cut export quota
08 Oct 04 |  Business

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