EghtesadOnline: The Caspian littoral states have decided to extend the ban on fishing sturgeons for commercial purposes until the end of 2020.
The decision was made during a recent meeting where a document was signed for the protection of the rare Caspian aquatic creature, Mehr News Agency quoted the head of Iran Fisheries Organization, Nabiollah Khoun-Mirzaei, as saying.
The ban has been in place since 2011.
As per the agreement, sturgeons can only be harvested for research purposes, according to Financial Tribune.
Caspian Sea to the north of Iran is the world’s primary and largest habitat of beluga, the most famous sturgeon species, as well as four other sturgeon species.
However, the deteriorating condition of Caspian Sea has long been threatening this fish with extinction. The declining sturgeon population and the ban on their fishing have caused a downtrend in Iran’s caviar exports.
The long, prehistoric fish, whose glittery, bead-like eggs make the choicest caviar, had been driven nearly to extinction by overfishing.
Now, dozens of Iranian producers are raising sturgeons legally on fish farms.
Khoun-Mirzaei noted that Iran's production of sturgeon meat is expected to reach 3,400 tons by the end of the current Iranian year (March 2020).
He added that farmed caviar production is expected to reach 800 kilograms by the fiscal yearend.
According to the head of Iran Fisheries Organization, Iran produced 2,800 tons of sturgeon meat as well as 590 kilograms of farmed caviar in the last Iranian year (March 2018-19), Mehr News Agency reported.
Iran’s total seafood output reached 1.26 million tons last year from average of 32,000 tons in the last four decades.
Studies show that most of the world’s sturgeons spawn in the rivers flowing into the Caspian Sea. Iran has some of the harshest laws on poaching the fish while authorities have sought to persuade other countries in the region to implement similar regulations to protect the fish.