Sunday, November 14, 2004

Russian Information Agency Novosti

Russian Information Agency Novosti: "RUSSIAN EXPERTS HELP IRAN REPRODUCE STURGEON IN CASPIAN

TEHRAN, November 14 (RIA Novosti's staff writer Nikolai Terekhov) In August - October, Iran has released about 600,000 juvenile sturgeons to the Caspian Sea, a source in the Iranian fishing company Shilat told RIA Novosti.

"Over 590,000 specially marked juvenile sturgeons have been released to the Caspian Sea in the last three months in the Caspian provinces of Gilyan, Mazandaran, and Golestan as part of a sturgeon reproduction assistance program," the spokesman for the company said.

"The primary goal of the four-year project is to increase the population of this most valuable fish, increasingly declining in the last years. We plan to release 20 million juveniles each year," he said.

The sturgeon reproduction assistance program was developed in Iran together with Russian experts from the Caspian Fishery Research Institute, Astrakhan. The Russian institute has a 25-year record of growing and reproducing sturgeon.

A reproduction assistance program became necessary because too few sturgeons have remained in the Caspian, primarily due to adverse ecology and heavy poaching.

Currently export quotas for sturgeon meat and caviar are restricted in compliance with the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), controlling the number of endangered sturgeon.

CITES has restricted exports for all sturgeon at 50% of total catch for beluga, 40% for star sturgeon, and 10% for Russian and Persian sturgeon.

Iran holds the largest quota (51%) for catch and export of sturgeon. Russia is in second place.

Export quotas for caviar have also been decreased. Less and less caviar has been delivered even to the domestic markets of producing countries."

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