TEHRAN, Dec. 25 (Mehr News Agency) -- An official from the Iranian Ministry of Agricultural Jihad on Sunday stressed again that Iran officially maintains the right to catch and export 65% of the total Caspian sturgeon and caviar. "According to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES), Iran's caviar export quota is 50 tons," Nezami stated, putting the total Caspian caviar export quotas of the other four Caspian Sea littoral states at 30 tons.
The issue was recently discussed in the Kazakh capital city of Astana during the Convention for the Caspian Marine Environment Protection. The conference was held from December 20-23 this year. "All Caspian littoral states, including Iran, Russia, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, and Turkmenistan, should follow the CITES quota distribution table," the official noted.
For the past few years, Iran Fisheries Organization has been exerting tight control over sturgeon fishing in the Iranian-owned part of the sea. However, Nezami added, the organization requires to be provided with more aid credits in order to follow up its plans that are mostly aimed to prevent illegal fishing and also to preserve the current sturgeons (caviar reserves) of the Caspian Sea.
"Financial shortages have contributed to a sharp fall in this year's sturgeon catch," he said, adding that Iran's annual catch of the fish has attained only 20 tons.
As part of the project for conservation of Caspian sturgeon, Iran will release 5 million farmed sturgeon fingerlings into the sea in the next two months. "Regarding the equipments and technology we have to do this, the release can increase from the current number of 270 million to 500 million," Nezami stated.
Last October, the five Caspian Sea states had agreed to cut their combined exports to 113,554 kg (250,200 lb) from 146,210 kg. A year later, The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced a ban on the importation of all beluga sturgeon caviar and meat harvested from the Caspian Sea basin 'as a result of the failure of any Caspian Sea countries to submit plans to protect their remaining sturgeon populations from extinction'. Iran called the move a poaching stimulant, implying it had collected and exported as much sturgeon and caviar as it was authorized.
The Caspian Sea or Mazandaran Sea is a landlocked endorheic sea between Asia and Europe. It is the world's largest inland body of water. It has a surface area of 371,000 kmē (143,000 sq. mi.), and a maximum depth of about 980m (3200 ft). Thus it has characteristics common to both seas and lakes. It is often listed as the world's largest lake. The sea is home to 87 species of microphytes and many species of green algae.
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