IS ROE* (*fish eggs)
Southeast at Risk of Losing Caviar-Producing
Tenn. - Some say its delicious. Some say its disgusting.
Many say its disappearing, along with the sturgeon and
paddlefish that produce those perfect pearls of nature, caviar.
if you think this is strictly a problem for fish and fisheries
in a faraway land, think again. As sturgeon populations approach
depletion in the Caspian Sea - where the majority of the worlds
caviar originates - the once-prolific sturgeon is being sought
in other waters -- ours.
the mid-1970s, increased regulation and reduction of Caspian
sturgeon stocks have put growing pressure on North American
sturgeon, stocks which are already affected by loss of habitat
and domestic commercial fishing. Once considered a less-than-lucrative
commodity, North American sturgeon stocks now supply 30 percent
of worlds production of caviar, with prices rising accordingly
-- from $50 to $70 a pound in recent years to more than $500
rivers and streams, which World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has identified
as one of the most biologically diverse ecosystems on earth,
contain five of the worlds species of sturgeon. Without
intervention to stabilize these sturgeon populations, they are
at serious risk of extinction due to a combination of habitat
alterations, pollution and fishing pressure.
dont have to travel deep into the Brazilian rain forest,
climb the highest peak of the Himalayas, or take a jungle safari
in Africa to see some of the most biologically rich wonders
of the world, said Constance Hunt, senior program officer
for WWF. Unless we take measures to protect southeastern
rivers and streams, ancient species like sturgeon and paddlefish
will suffer the same fate as the dinosaur.
added that Florida, Georgia, Tennessee and Alabama collectively
have more of their aquatic species at risk of extinction than
all other states combined. Without intervention, the Southeast
is on the brink of a fish extinction crisis.
for North American caviar-producing fish will be the topic of
a symposium on May 7 and 8 sponsored by World Wildlife Funds
trade monitoring program TRAFFIC North America, the Southeast
Aquatic Research Institute and the Tennessee Aquarium, located
on the banks of the Tennessee River in Chattanooga. Representatives
from state and federal agencies, trade experts, interested non-governmental
organization representatives, importers/exporters, fisheries
industry representatives and members of the academic community
will address harvest, trade and conservation issues for the
US and Canada from all sides.
didnt nickname the paddlefish Chattanooga Beluga
for nothing, said Dr. George Benz, chief research scientist
at the Tennessee Aquarium. Unknown to many caviar consumers,
some tinned Russian caviar is actually North American caviar
that has been shipped to Russia for packaging. We have a keen
interest in sturgeon and paddlefish survival for a number of
living fossils, sturgeon are one of the oldest types
of living bony fish on earth, with known fossil remains dating
more than 250 million years ago. Sturgeon are generally long-lived
and therefore particularly vulnerable to fishing pressures because
they dont reach sexual maturity until they are 6 to 25
years of age, depending on the species.
sturgeon populations have already declined as much as 70 percent
this century, said Andrea Gaski, director of research
for TRAFFIC. Although their bony exterior keeps the sturgeon
well-protected from attack by non-human predators, refuge from
the human is another story.
as of April 1, all sturgeon species worldwide are protected
under CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered
Species of Wild Fauna and Flora). The new rules require all
caviar imported to or exported from the US to have valid CITES
export permits - a seal of approval showing its not the
product of caviar bootleggers. Batches of caviar will also be
DNA-tested by Wildlife Service workers to check for its point
to TRAFFIC North America, although protection under CITES provides
a stronger international regulatory mechanism for the import
and export of caviar, it may not be enough. Consumers
should stay away from black-market caviar and demand the CITES
permits on any caviar they buy, said Gaski.
Wildlife Fund, known worldwide by its panda logo, has for 35
years led international efforts to save life on earth. Between
now and the year 2000, through the Living Planet Campaign, WWF
will engage the global community to take bold action on behalf
of the worlds wildlife and wild places.
North America is the wildlife monitoring program of World Wildlife
Fund and IUCN-The World Conservation Union.
Tennessee Aquarium in Chattanooga is the largest freshwater
aquarium in the world. Built with private contributions, this
non-profit educational organization is dedicated to the understanding,
conservation and celebration of aquatic habitats. For more information,