December 03, 2005
A Most Elusive Fish: Poached Sturgeon in the Caspian
The nations of the Caspian Sea basin share a scarce resource other than petroleum: sturgeon. However, the Iranians, Azerbaijanis, and Turkmen are faring possibly worse at protecting their beluga supply than they are even at divvying up shares of the usual type of black gold under discussion.
Of course, one can sympathize with the circumstances of impoverished Caspian littoral basin villagers taking advantage of what should be a renewable resource, even if conducted in violation of international treaty and domestic laws (and for that matter, I may, far away as I am, have indirectly benefited from sturgeon poaching - circumstantial evidence suggests that my then-boyfriend, a native of an ancient Dagestani city on the Caspian, may have greased the way to a precious ruble-denominated Aeroflot ticket to visit me in the U.S. by means of poached caviar). However, the sheer extent of the poaching problem, the lack of official accountability for preventing it, and the long replacement cycle for sturgeon may mean that the problem will disappear before a solution is found, and before sturgeon poachers and officials who enable them have better economic opportunities available to them, because Caspian sturgeon will be extinct.
(The females, who produce the caviar, are needed for reproduction – and once they are caught for caviar, they are dead – does anyone know whether there is a way for the females to produce caviar and survive to continue reproducing?)
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Why yes, it just so happens I HAVE read of a way for females to produce caviar and survive. Basically, the sturgeon are caught and "massaged" to squeeze out the eggs. This results, however, in lower grade caviar, probably as eggs are smushed.
Posted by: ascendance at December 3, 2005 10:45 PM