Fish and Wildlife steps up controls on imported beluga sturgeon
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said it would increase protections for the beluga stugeon by adding the fish to the nation’s Endangered Species Act.
According to the agency, the listing takes effect six months from its April 21 publication in the Federal Register.
Female beluga sturgeon are a prized source for caviar. However, overfishing has helped to fuel an international black market in beluga caviar, especially from the countries surrounding the Black and Caspian seas.
“Listing beluga sturgeon as threatened under the U.S. Endangered Species Act brings the country’s conservation requirements in line with existing international measures for the species under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES),” said Fish and Wildlife Service director Steve Williams in a statement.
The agency will soon consider the development of a proposed special rule for beluga sturgeon to ensure that its conversation measures are in line with CITES. In 1998, beluga sturgeon was included in the CITES Appendix II. An Appendix II listing allows controlled international trade for commercial and non-commercial purposes through a system of permits. All sturgeon and their byproducts must be accompanied by valid CITES documentation to be legally imported into or exported from the United States.