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Caspian states may impose sturgeon fishing ban: Moscow

The five nations littoral to the Caspian Sea may introduce a five-year ban on sturgeon fishing within the next three months amid falling stocks of the fish famous for producing caviar, Russia said Thursday.

The proposal on the moratorium was put forward during a summit of Caspian Sea leaders by Kazakhstan, which previously opposed a ban, and is backed by both Iran and Russia.

“We have found the technical solution,” the Interfax news agency quoted Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov as saying. “Now we must work out a specific mechanism for putting it into practice.”

Russia last proposed a five-year moratorium in 2008, but the plan was rejected by Kazakhstan, which like other Caspian Sea nations reaps huge profits from the sturgeon and its precious roe. Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan are the other states littoral to the Caspian Sea.

Almost all the world’s sturgeon, one of the oldest species of fish, live in the Caspian Sea. Their eggs have been prized as a delicacy for centuries and environmentalists say the species is headed for extinction.

International environmental watchdog the World Wildlife Fund has reported that the population of Caspian Sea sturgeon, including the osetra, sevruga and beluga species, has fallen by as much as 70 percent in the past few decades.