Beluga caviar export quotas agreed: UN

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The finest beluga caviar is back on the table this year, after five producer countries agreed export quotas for the delicacy, the UN's watchdog on endangered species said Friday.

Trade in beluga caviar was halted last year as countries failed to agree on quotas, in line with a 2002 CITES agreement.

But at a meeting in Tehran, Azerbaijan, Iran, Kazakhstan, Russia and Turkmenistan agreed new quotas which would run until February 28, 2011, said the UN Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species in a statement.

The new beluga quotas are: zero for Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan, 800 kilogrammes (1,760 pounds) for Iran, 1,500kg for Kazakhstan and 700kg for Russia.

As caviar stocks declined through the 1990s, member states of CITES put all all sturgeon on a special list that requires government approval for trade in these products.

A temporary ban on wild caviar was imposed in 2001 due to a depletion of stocks amid high levels of poaching and illegal trade in the Caspian Sea.

This was later lifted and in 2002, countries sharing a stock of sturgeons automatically have zero quotas unless they reach a consensus on a sustainable level of exports.

© 2010 AFP

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