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Campaign to protect critically endangered beluga sturgeon

Campaign to protect critically endangered beluga sturgeon and other threatened sturgeon species announced by leading environmental groups

Halt to trade of beluga caviar sought; consumers urged to reduce their consumption

WASHINGTON (December 6, 2000) Caviar, long a symbol of luxury, is emerging instead as a sign of environmental mismanagement as Caspian Sea sturgeon populations -- source of much of the world's caviar -- plummet.

In response to the triple threat to sturgeon posed by overfishing, habitat loss and pollution, three leading environmental groups today announced a campaign to protect and help restore the world's remaining sturgeon populations. The initial focus of the groups' recommendations is on beluga, Russian and stellate sturgeon from the Caspian Sea, which produce the vast majority of the world's caviar.

"Caviar Emptor," the new campaign unveiled by the Wildlife Conservation Society, Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), and SeaWeb, today released Roe to Ruin: The Decline of Caspian Sea Sturgeon and the Road to Recovery. The report details the threats facing Caspian Sea sturgeon, particularly beluga, and the steps needed to achieve recovery.

The campaign will file a formal petition this week asking the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to list beluga sturgeon as an endangered species, which would halt importation of beluga caviar into the United States. In addition, the campaign will encourage the U.S. government to pursue an international ban on trade of beluga caviar at a meeting of an expert committee of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), which convenes next week to review global trade in various sturgeon species.

"Overfishing, habitat loss, pollution and poor regulations have collectively driven this species to the brink of extinction," said Dr. Ellen Pikitch, Director of Marine Programs of the Wildlif
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Contact: Charles Longer
charles@fenton.com
202.822.5200 x 223
Wildlife Conservation Society
6-Dec-2000


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