From ArticleWorld

Caviar is the processed roe (egg masses) of several species of fish, most commonly sturgeon. It is considered a delicacy around the world, and is generally served as an appetizer, in the form of a garnish or spread. Due to its high price, it is synonymous in many western cultures, with luxury and wealth. In Russia, and many other cultures, though an expensive delicacy, it is a common part of celebrations such as weddings and holiday feasts.


Today the best caviar comes from sturgeon fished from the Caspian Sea by Azerbaijan, Iranian, and Russian fisherman. Some of the highest prices are paid for Beluga, Ossetra, and Sevruga. The rare, golden Sterlet caviar was once a favorite of czars, shahs and emperors, but that species is now almost extinct.


In the early 1900s, both Canada and the United States were major suppliers of caviar to Europe. They harvested the eggs primarily from Lake sturgeon in the midwest, and from Shortnose sturgeon and Atlantic sturgeon that spawned in East coast rivers. However, today the Shortnose sturgeon is listed as endangered under the U.S. Endangered Species Act. In recent years, the aquaculture of sturgeon has been increasing. Also in recent years, paddlefish and hackleback caviar have gained in popularity. These lower priced caviars are also from the sturgeon family. In September 2005, The United States Fish and Wildlife Service banned the import of Beluga caviar from the Caspian Sea. This was an attempt to protect the endangered Beluga sturgeon. A month later, it extended the ban to include Beluga caviar from the Black Sea basin for the same reasons. In January 2006, CITES (The Convention for Trade in Endangered Species), announced that they were unable to approve the export quotas for caviar from wild stocks. If this is not resolved, the trade in caviar will have to be limitied to that produced in sturgeon farms.