Monday, February 19, 2007

Bummin' Beluga

About two weeks ago, the UN lifted its year-long ban on beluga sturgeon caviar. Even though countries that export the delicacy said that they would reduce the amount of caviar they caught by 29 percent, many environmentalists are still angry that eggs can be harvested from a species that could be close to extinction.

According to an article in Reuters, certain environmental protection groups think that the UN Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) is not fulfilling its responsibility by lifting the ban: "'This is irresponsible behavior by international trade officials,' said Ellen Pikitch, executive director of the Pew Institute for Ocean Science and co-founder of Caviar Emptor, a group campaigning to protect Caspian Sea sturgeon."

So what is the alternative? Some groups like SeaWeb are suggesting that people boycott the beluga eggs, which accounts for 90 percent of the world's caviar. If the population declines even more dramatically, CITES could reinstate the ban, but if a 45 percent decrease in the population from 2004 to 2005 is not enough to maintain a ban on the caviar for longer than a year, the species might not survive so swimmingly.