Bye-bye beluga

A few years ago, NRDC joined the caviar emptor campaign, an effort to save endangered sturgeon--particularly beluga sturgeon--from overfishing as a result of the caviar trade.  Because of our efforts, beluga sturgeon was ultimately listed as a threatened species under the U.S. Endangered Species Act, and the importation of beluga caviar into the United States (at that time the world's biggest market) was banned.

But the price of caviar has continued to rise and, despite international protections under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), the slow spiral of belgua sturgeon towards extinction continues.  Now the World Wildlife Fund Russia has called for a moratorium on Russian exports of beluga caviar.  Any slowdown in sturgeon harvest would be welcome.  One of the challenges beluga sturgeon face (beyond the fact that folks are paying in excess of $200 an ounce of their roe) is that Russia's not the only player: Azerbaijan, Iran, and Kazakhstan also harvest beluga caviar, making comprehensive regulation of the caviar trade that much more complex.

For those of you who love the stuff, however, have no fear; there are plenty of alternatives available.