Beluga Ban

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service seeks to save sturgeon

12-01-2005 // Roger Di Silvestro

THE U.S. FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE in early October initiated a ban on beluga sturgeon products from the Caspian Sea, including beluga caviar, which sells for some $200 an ounce and ranks as the best in the world. Sturgeon belong to an ancient lineage of armor-plated fish that resemble submarines in body shape and can exceed 20 feet in length. The United States consumes 60 percent of the world's beluga caviar exports, a trade that has contributed to a 90 percent decline in Caspian sturgeon since 1985. The ban is the first unilateral U.S. effort to protect the fish. Previous temporary bans stemmed from international treaties. For more information on this ancient survivor, see National Wildlife February/March 2005.

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