The production of caviar in the Caspian has fallen from 200 tones in 15 to 20 years ago to less than 10 tones.
Over-fishing and smuggling as well as pollution caused by sewage entry into the Caspian Sea have considerably reduced the seas sturgeon stock.
According to an expert at Iran's Fisheries Institute, many species of the sturgeon are today threatened by smugglers who do not respect the fishing quotas.
As a result "the production of caviar has fallen from 200 tones in 15 to 20 years ago to less than 10 tones," Ali Jafari said.
The crisis began with the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 which resulted in the loss of state control over the industry and as a result, a 20% to 30% reduction of sturgeon stocks in the Caspian Sea is observed annually which means the species could be extinct within only a few years.
Iranian scientists estimate that sturgeon could be extinct within 14 years if poaching is not controlled.
The Caspian Sea produces 90 per cent of the world's caviar, harvested by Iran, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Russia. Photo.