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Caspian countries agree to set up caviar cartel

Reprint 24 August 1993, Reuters News, LBA, English, (c) 1993 Reuters Limited

NICOSIA, Aug 24 (Reuter) – The five countries sharing the Caspian Sea agreed on Tuesday to set up a
caviar cartel, Iran’s IRNA news ageny reported.

It said fishery officials from Iran, Russia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan, meeting in the Iranian
Caspian port of Bandar Anzali, agreed to coordinate marketing of the luxury delicacy around the world.

“Member states will in future get together to determine the caviar export quota for each country and will also
study the possibility of joint exports,” IRNA said.

An Iranian official contacted at the conference by telephone told Reuters the agreement was necessary to
check a sharp slide in caviar prices since the Soviet Union broke up two year ago.

“Since the Soviet Union collapsed, a confused market and excessive and low-quality supply from the newly
independent countries have led to a sharp decline in caviar prices,” the official said.

He declined to say how much prices had fallen or to give figures on Iran’s caviar exports.

“There are no laws governing the caviar industry (in the former Soviet republics). There is no control, not
even in Russia,” he said.

Iranian media have reported occasional cases of illicit trade in Iranian caviar. The official said they were very
rare and punishments including jail and heavy fines deterred smugglers.

Iran’s Construction Jihad Minister Gholamreza Forouzesh told the conference on Sunday that the Caspian
held 90 percent of the world’s sturgeon, whose slightly salted raw eggs form the prized delicacy.

“Caspian sturgeon stocks have been severely hurt in recent years for various reasons, including industrial
and agricultural pollution and unregulated fishing,” he said.

The caviar cartel would be the first concrete result of an organisation of Caspian countries set up last year
which also wants to promote cooperation in shipping and other areas.