Illegal caviar business falls in region

Although caviar smuggling is on the decrease, authorities are still faced with illegal produce from the Caspian Sea region.

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By  Lynne Nolan Published  August 17, 2006

Stamping out illegal trading in caviar in the UAE has proved difficult, with high numbers of people bringing the product in from the Caspian Sea region, an environmental protection expert said yesterday. Since being listed as an endangered species in 1998, sturgeon smuggling and illegal trading in caviar has posed a serious problem for the UAE, with sturgeon caviar sourced from Iran, Turkmenistan and Russia. Dr Al Saeed Ahmad, an inspector with the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) revealed that regular seizures of up to 5kg for personal use are often made from Russian tourists during the festive period. However, he said the problem has decreased, however, with occasional confiscations as opposed to the huge hauls made in the late 1990’s. Abu Dhabi Customs Department also added that caviar confiscations were very rare. According to Dr Ahmad, unless a person entering the UAE is carrying the necessary CITES documentation, then any amount over 250g for personal use is confiscated. Reports released at a recent workshop on the illegal trade in caviar held in Brussels said that more 1,400 tons of caviar was legally traded around the world but concluded that the illegal trade is still flourishing.

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