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1.06.2006
  Sturgeon's Fate Rest With The UN : No More Caviar
After years of prodding by alarmed scientists and environmental groups, the United Nations this week called for a ban on the import of wild sturgeon from their main habitats, including the Caspian and Black seas. That's where the world's fanciest caviars come from. If the ban holds, a tin of beluga will become as illegal as a tusk of ivory in every country that signed the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species.

Whether this will help save the most famous branch of the sturgeon family from overfishing and possible extinction is far from certain. Rampant corruption and chaos in the region that includes Russia, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan and Iran are the main reasons that the old system of managed harvests and hatchery programs has fallen apart. Most likely, in the short term at least, a ban will merely drive up the price for outlawed caviar and further line the pockets of poachers and black marketeers.

There are rays of hope for the future, however. Last year, the U.S. unilaterally stopped caviar imports from the Caspian and Black seas. Joel Assouline, a Philadelphia retailer and wholesaler who founded Caviar Assouline, told us that his customers are learning to savor the increasingly tasty berries, as he calls roe, of American-raised sturgeon and their relative, the paddlefish. But Europe, another significant part of the huge Western market for Caspian beluga and similar delicacies, will be harder to police. As the French found in a survey of car travelers returning from trips abroad, most of the caviar that they had bought was illegal even under the present, failed, quota system.



Yes thats right, the only hope is U.S. unilateral action.

I hope the UN protection works out better for fish than it has for every person murdered under under UN auspices.
 
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