UK rich eat illegal caviar, threatening sturgeon

This is a video about beluga sturgeon and caviar.

From British daily The Independent:

British restaurants using black market caviar

By Martin Hickman, Consumer Affairs Correspondent
Published: 25 July 2007

An illegal black market exists in Britain in cut-price caviar smuggled from the Caspian Sea, where the sturgeon is losing a battle for survival against over-fishing.

In scenes redolent of the illicit trade in stolen gadgets in pubs, traders knocking at the backdoor of restaurants are offering caviar at big discounts. The smuggling has so far passed with little sanction. EU countries imported 591 tonnes of caviar in 2006, but seizures of illegal caviar between 2000 and 2005 totalled just 12 tonnes.

Paul Merritt, a Michelin-starred chef and BBC television food presenter, confirmed the existence of the practice – which is little mentioned by the restaurant trade.

Mature females key to beluga sturgeon survival: here.

Chinese sturgeon: here.

Nick Calleya, 36, from Cubert in Cornwall and George Carstairs from Scotland landed a 500lb white Sturgeon while angling from a boat in the Fraser River in British Columbia in Canada: here.

11 thoughts on “UK rich eat illegal caviar, threatening sturgeon

  1. Sturgeon

    A recent study at the University of Paris-South in Orsay, France, asked people at upscale receptions to sample and compare two types of caviar—one from a common species of sturgeon and one from a rare sturgeon species. Seventy percent of participants preferred the rare caviar. The researchers conducted the same taste test at a supermarket, targeting people who were not familiar with caviar, and they, too—by 74 percent—preferred the rare caviar. The punchline is that in both tests the caviar offered was exactly the same, coming from farmed sturgeon. The results bode ill for an ancient fish species already losing the battle for survival (see February/March 2005 National Wildlife) to habitat loss and degradation as well as to commercial egg collection. One hope for sturgeon has been the potential for replacing eggs collected in the wild with farmed eggs, but this test suggests that people’s taste buds respond more to the label on a caviar jar than to the caviar itself, creating a market for the rarer, more expensive forms even if there is no noticeable difference in taste. Caspian Sea sturgeons, which produce some of the most expensive caviar in the world, could become extinct by 2012 at current rates of egg collection.—Roger Di Silvestro


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