The Russian Oukha soup is one of the most popular fish recipes that borrow the special taste of sturgeon to create exceptional and special dishes. This healthy food may also be prepared with a variety of fish like turbot, halibut, bream and perch. Fresh and frozen, sturgeon is a popular delicacy in many countries and their eggs (caviar) are excellent in appetizer recipes. It’s very sad to say that the existence of this fish, one of the most primitive fish still surviving, is threatened by us humans.
Regulation of river flow and over-fishing are the major reasons for sturgeon population declines over the 20th century. Sturgeon are vulnerable to over-fishing because of their late sexual maturity (6-25 years).
Sturgeon fishing and trade in the products is a very profitable business. Compared to other fishery activities it is often viewed as “gold-mining”. Illegal harvest and trade in sturgeon products is a well managed and operated business, controlled by organised crime and associated with world-wide corruption. Over-fishing and poaching has led to a significant reduction in total legal catch, in the world and especially in the main sturgeon basin – the Caspian Sea.
Legal and illegal trade in Caviar
Caviar is the unfertilised eggs of sturgeons. For many gourmets, caviar, dubbed ‘black pearls’, is a food delicacy without parallel. The three main traded species of sturgeon produce distinctive caviar: Beluga, Osietra (Russian sturgeon) and Sevruga (stellate sturgeon). The colour and size of the caviar are influenced by the species and the stage of maturity of the roe. The most sought after and expensive caviar is from beluga, a gigantic fish that can weigh as much as 1,200 kg, measure five metres and live for 100 years. Today, Iran and Russia are the main exporters of caviar, about 80% of which is taken from three species of sturgeon in the Caspian Sea: Russian sturgeon (around 20% of the market), stellate sturgeon (28%) and Persian sturgeon (29%). More....