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GLIN==> Caviar Emptor: Additional Trade Controls Benefit Wild Sturgeon

Posted on behalf of Rich Greenwood <Rich_Greenwood@fws.gov >


The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has announced that,
effective December
6, 1999, it will no longer issue or accept for import, export,
or re-export
any certificates under the Convention on International Trade in
Species (CITES) for caviar predating April 1,1998.  CITES is an
international agreement designed to control and regulate global
trade in
certain wild animals and plants that are or may become
threatened with
extinction due to commercial trade.

The new regulation will enhance wild sturgeon conservation.
An increasing
international market for Caspian Sea sturgeon prompted the 146
CITES member
nations to regulate as of April 1, 1998, commercial trade in
all sturgeon
and paddlefish species and their products, including caviar, by
adding the
species to CITES Appendix II. Since that date, the United
States and its
CITES partners have required that caviar importations be
accompanied by
CITES permits from the exporting or re-exporting countries.  By
these permits, countries ensure that the caviar contained in a
shipment was
legally acquired and that trade does not threaten the survival
of wild
sturgeon. Shipments in which the caviar was certified by the
country to have been acquired before the April 1998 controls,
were issued
special certificates attesting to that fact.  The 1998
regulations also
limited the amount of caviar individuals could legally bring
into or take
out of the United States to 250 grams of caviar per person per
trip for
personal use.

As a side benefit, the regulation also helps keep outdated
caviar from
reaching the marketplace.  According to the sturgeon products
industry, the
normal shelf life for caviar is 12 months. As of December 6,
1999, the
shelf life of any caviar imported before April 1,1998, would have expired.
Now American caviar lovers can be confident that when they buy
caviar from
reputable outlets, they will be getting a fresher product.
Moreover, by
purchasing legally acquired caviar, consumers are supporting
conservation at home and abroad.

The December 6 prohibition does not affect aquaculture-produced
caviar or
caviar harvested from the wild after April 1, 1998, which will
continue to
be allowed with a valid CITES permit or a valid CITES re-export
from the country of re-export.

Commercial trade in two endangered sturgeon species -shortnose
and Baltic-
has been banned under CITES since 1975.

For a copy of the December 6, 1999 Federal Register notice, go

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