New report documents dramatic decline in beluga sturgeon in the Caspian Sea

Conservation organizations call for immediate halt to international trade of beluga caviar

(January 23, 2002) Citing a report released this week that documents the perilous state of beluga sturgeon in the Caspian Sea, three conservation organizations through the Caviar Emptor campaign reiterated their call for an immediate and sustained halt in international trade of caviar from the endangered beluga sturgeon.

The survey released by the Caspian Environment Programme (CEP), an internationally funded regional organization for environmentally sustainable development found only 28 beluga sturgeon in the entire survey region, of which 85 percent were immature.

The numbers presented in this new report are very discouraging for the prospects of saving the beluga sturgeon. The species has reached a critical point that is worse than we expected. The survey report shows that in just the past seven years, there has been more than a 40 percent decline in mature beluga sturgeon in the northern part of the Caspian Sea, and it shows no evidence of mature beluga sturgeon in the middle and southern Caspian, said Dr. Ellen Pikitch, Director of Marine Programs for the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS). This new survey presents significant evidence of the beluga sturgeons accelerating decline toward extinction.

Lisa Speer, Senior Policy Analyst with the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), said, The United States and the international community must act quickly to stop the trade in beluga caviar if beluga sturgeon is to be rescued from extinction. Speer criticized the United States for its failure to exert leadership in the effort to save beluga sturgeon.

There are several upcoming opportunities for the international community and the United States to protect beluga sturgeon. The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), the international body that regulates the wildlife trade, is currently final

Contact: Shannon Crownover

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