Azerbaijan, Baku, Jan. 22 / Trend M. Moezzi/
Iran has produced caviar from farmed sturgeon for the first time and it is expected that Iran's income from the sale of the delicacy will reach $500 million, the head of the Iran Fisheries Organization said, the Islamic Students' News Agency (ISNA) reported.
The country produces 250,000 tons of farmed seafood annually, a figure that will increase to a million tons by the end of the Fifth Development Plan (2011-2015), Gholam Reza Razeghi said. Fishing will increase from 420,000 tons to 700,000 tons a year during the same period.
As part of its efforts to expand capacity, Iran has allocated $35 million to build 20 fishing ports in Iran.
The decision to produce caviar from farmed sturgeon is a sign of the Caspian Sea's ongoing problems with pollution and over fishing, and a response to the dwindling supply of the Caspian Sturgeon.
Since the breakup of the Soviet Union, there have been efforts to control pollution and the overfishing of caviar in the Caspian Sea. A convention on Protection of the Marine Environment of the Caspian Sea (Tehran Convention) undersigned by the heads of Iran, Russia, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan in 2003 clearly outlines the countries' commitments for securing the Caspian environment.
According to the Tehran Convention, all Caspian Sea littoral countries are obligated to take all necessary measures, individually or collectively, to reduce and control pollution of the sea. Enforcing the agreement is difficult.
The overfishing of sturgeon has driven the fish to the brink of extinction. All of the species of sturgeon in the Caspian Sea, one of the oldest families of fishes in existence with estimated 250 million years old, valued around the world for their precious roe, are at risk of extermination, making them the most threatened group of animals on (the International Union for Conservation of Nature) the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
The sharp decrease in caviar production from the Caspian is alarming. For instance, production of this lovely delicacy was only 100 tons in 2010 compared to 3,000 tons in 1985.