More on caviar trade and sturgeons
- Originating 200 million years ago, sturgeons have outlasted the dinosaurs, but today are the most threatened animals on the IUCN red list of threatened species. Overfishing - principally for caviar - is the biggest cause for concern, but cutting off sturgeon migration routes, habitat alteration, including hydropower, and pollution are further contributing causes. According to the World Sturgeon Conservation Society, the Danube is the only large river system in Europe where protection of existing but dwindling sturgeon stocks is still possible.
- Due to its high price and rarity, caviar - one of the most expensive wildlife products - is often traded illegally. Among the sturgeon species native to the Danube is the Beluga Sturgeon, famous for its expensive caviar. Trade in sturgeon caviar is an extremely profitable business. Retail prices for caviar can reach EUR 6,000 and up per kilogram.
- The Black Sea is one of the most important sturgeon fisheries in the world, second only to the Caspian Sea. The Danube, as one of the major feeder rivers and estuaries of the Black Sea, is crucial for sturgeons. Fishing and export of sturgeon and sturgeon products of wild origin was banned in Romania in 2006 for 10 years, while Bulgaria is currently under a one year ban.
- The TRAFFIC report also provides an analysis of legal caviar trade which is economically important for the whole region. It shows that direct exports of caviar peaked in 2000 in Romania and in 2006 in Bulgaria. In Romania the reported amounts of caviar went down to zero in 2006, the start of a 10 year sturgeon fishing and export ban in the country.