Gland, Switzerland (11.06.01) IUCN-The World Conservation Union. The International Caviar Importers Association (ICIA), has generously agreed to provide a grant of US$10,000 to support the work of the Sturgeon Specialist Group (SSG) of IUCN's Species Survival Commission. Ten members of the Association will each contribute US$1,000 to enable the Group to retain a part-time executive officer and obtain communications equipment.
Sturgeon produce one of the world’s most valuable wildlife commodities - the caviar of some species may sell for £4,000 per kilogramme. In the 1996 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, 27 species of the sturgeon and paddlefish family were listed as threatened with extinction. Since then, the situation of sturgeon in the main caviar producing areas of the Caspian and Sea of Azov/Black Sea regions is thought to have worsened due to increasing illegal harvest following the break-up of the former Soviet Union.
News of the donation follows the first meeting of the SSG in February this year where sturgeon experts and caviar traders gathered for the first time to form an action pan to halt the rapid decline of the species. Ongoing conservation initiatives were reviewed and priorities for future work identified. These include controlling poaching and illegal trade in caviar, improving efficiency in aquaculture and restocking techniques, and improving regional and international cooperation for sturgeon conservation.
"This is an extremely welcome move. It is the first time that the caviar industry and the Sturgeon Specialist Group have worked together on such a significant level, and shows recognition by the industry of the problems facing sturgeon species and the need for urgent action," says SSC's Wildlife Trade Programme Officer, Dr Alison Rosser.