Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Caspian Sea - Caviar Statistical Graphs and Data

GRID-Arendal, a collaborating center of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), has a fantastic website with detailed statistical information for several regions in and around Europe, including the Caspian Sea.

This graph represents the illegal caviar trade in the Caspian region between 2000 and 2005. (Click for a full-scale image)

Another graph represents the legal international caviar trade between 1998 and 2003 for caviar originating from the Caspian Sea. In 2003, 83% of the world caviar trade consisted of caviar from the Caspian Sea.

A Very informative website for those that are in interested in Caviar, the Caspian Sea, and historical data.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Romanians Protest Lift of Sturgeon Fishing Ban

Fishing of sturgeons for commercial purposes was banned in Romania in 2006 for a period of ten years. The relatively long period of prohibition is explained by the long life cycle of the sturgeon (the maximum age being between 24 and 100 years), by the long period necessary for the sturgeon to reach reproductive age (between 6 and 26 years), and by the fact that the sturgeon does not reproduce every year.

In a controversial move, the Romanian Government is now allowing sturgeon fishing for purposes other than restocking. The move was implemented in September by the Agriculture and Environment Committees of the Romanian Parliament. The new law in effect legalizes fishing of sturgeons for commercial purposes.

This is not good for the caviar industry, as further fishing in the region is flirting with complete extinction of sturgeon species. The main sturgeon species found in the Romanian region are Sterlet, Ship, and Beluga Sturgeon. Osetra and Sevruga Sturgeon are also found in the region.

Read the full article posted on here.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

True Organic Caviar Farming From Spain

There is a great read on Meat Trade News Daily, an English news source, about the Riofrio Caviar Farm in the Sierra Nevada region of southern Spain. The article gives you a feel for the only certified organic sturgeon farm in the world by documenting the entire caviar processing procedure, from selecting viable sturgeon using ultrasound to check for eggs, to salting the roe, and of course tasting FRESH caviar later that evening.

Riofrio is considered the only true organic caviar farm because unlike most other sturgeon fisheries, no hormones are introduced to the controlled environment to speed up the maturity rate of the fish. Their Adriatic sturgeon (Acipenser Naccarii) are also contained in mountain fresh water that is untreated with additives. The water maintains a year-round temperature of 13 to 15 degrees.

What's the difference? Stress, says Keith Jaggard of Riofrio - Reducing the amount of stress in sturgeon greatly increases their health and viability in terms of producing quality roe. By creating an atmosphere that is as close to natural as possible in a controlled environment, Riofrio aims to produce the most authentic caviar from a sustainable source.

I would love to sample some of their caviar, and perhaps visit their facilities early next year when I will be in the region. Caviar Trip!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Chemical Tags to Identify Unique Caviar

Scientists at Christian Albrechts University in Kiel, Germany have figured out a way to "tag" farmed caviar by supplementing the sturgeons diet with trace amounts of unique chemical compounds not normally occurring in nature.

Lead scientist Sven Wuertz believes this form of "tagging" could lead to a cheap and effective tool for labeling and distinguishing farmed caviar from Caspian "wild" caviar and ultimately illegally poached black-market caviar.

Although the idea of placing a genetic signature within farm-rasied sturgeon is relatively elegant and simple in design, multiple concerns exist with regulation by officials (CITES), primarily regarding cost, logistics, and the need for experts in the field. Further, Konrad Dabrowski who studies aquatic biochemistry at Ohio State University in Columbus, raises concerns on how "food additives" such as these tagging chemical compounds could cause side effects on sturgeon and humans who are consuming the caviar. As always, further detailed tests are suggested to determine if such a method is both safe and viable.

Even if it is years away, this is precisely the type of technology that will benefit legitimate caviar purveyors, caviar consumers, and worldwide CITES regulation towards the sustainability of caviar.