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Half of the red and black caviar in Europe is sold illegally: study shows unexpected results

Kseniya KapustynskaNews
Illegal caviar sales support poachers
Illegal caviar sales support poachers

Caviar extracted from wild-caught sturgeon has been banned for sale in Europe for almost 20 years. However, in 2023, it turned out that about 20% of caviar in the region was of this origin. More than a quarter of all products are sold with other violations of the law. In total, violations were found in 50% of the samples, and the inspection was carried out, in particular, in Ukraine.

The analysis conducted by the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research showed the corresponding results, Talker writes. Moreover, some products in European countries turned out to be not sturgeon caviar at all.

"Wild" caviar, an expensive delicacy made from sturgeon caviar, has been illegal for almost two decades because poaching has pushed the fish to the brink of extinction... Fish trade laws have been introduced, meaning that today caviar suitable for international trade can only be obtained from specially farmed sturgeon," the article says.

The team of scientists purchased a total of 149 caviar products - both online and in markets, shops, restaurants, bars, and aquaculture facilities in Bulgaria, Romania, Serbia, and Ukraine - countries that border wild sturgeon populations. These caviar samples were then genetically and isotopically analyzed, showing that

  • 21% came from wild sturgeon, not artificially farmed;
  • 29% was sold in violation of trade laws, for example, with the wrong sturgeon species or wrong country of origin.

Today, there are only four sturgeon species left in Europe capable of producing caviar. The last wild populations live in the Danube River and the Black Sea. "The results show a continuing demand for wild sturgeon products, which is alarming because these products threaten wild sturgeon populations. Demand fuels poaching. In addition, the sale of caviar in violation of CITES and European Union obligations calls into question the effectiveness of control in general and the labeling system in particular," the researchers emphasized.

As reported by OBOZ.UA, counterfeit caviar is sold in Ukraine at prices ten times lower than the real product. In this case, sellers pass off their goods as genuine.

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