A recent check at an Abu Dhabi supermarket by the Cites (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna) staff resulted in the finding of the caviar being sold without proper Cites documentation.
“This is yet another step in the drive to combat illegal trade in endangered species of wild fauna and flora in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi,” said a Cites spokeswoman.
Since caviar is the eggs of sturgeon fish, which are threatened in the wild, 25 of the 27 species of this fish have been listed under Cites Appendix II. This means international trade in these species and their products can occur, but only under a system of permits. The supermarket committed this offence despite the fact that the Cites authorities in the UAE had sent its management a letter a year ago informing them of the negative impacts of trading in endangered species and the negative consequences they would face if they did trade in those endangered species.
Caviar, otherwise known as ‘fish roe’, is an acknowledged delicacy around the world and is very expensive, with 250gm of Beluga caviar worth almost Dh1,150. Some establishments in Abu Dhabi that have shown great cooperation with Cites authorities and have complied with the agreement include the Hilton Hotel, Abu Dhabi Co-operative Society, Carrefour and Spinneys.
In 2001, the UAE was not allowed to import or re-export caviar because it was considered to be a major trans-shipment point for illegal caviar. Since the ban was lifted in 2002, the UAE authorities have demonstrated to the Geneva-based Cites Secretariat that caviar trade in the UAE has been regularised, with this recent confiscation being another example of the progress that has occurred.Caviar is produced from three main species of sturgeon namely Beluga (Huso huso), Osetra (Acipenser gueldenstaedtii) and Sevruga (Acipenser stellatus). Sturgeon caviar is considered the only true caviar and the last remaining sturgeon habitat is now in the Caspian Sea, which is the richest sturgeon habitat anywhere on the planet. These three species of sturgeon provide 90 per cent of the world’s production. Beluga is the most prized of all caviar. It comes from the largest of sturgeons, weighing up to 2,000 pounds.