To turn things around, the Iran Fisheries Organization attempted to increase the sturgeon population by breeding and then releasing them into the Caspian Sea. However, Arsalan Ghasemi, director of Iran’s Cooperative Aquatic Production, Farming, and Exports Union, has said that these measures have been unsuccessful due to a lack of “strategic vision.”
In a June 2015 interview with the Iranian judiciary’s official news website, Mizan, Ghasemi lamented the downward trend, saying, “At the moment, we are under the delusion that the caviar industry belongs to Iran, while countries such as China, Spain, South Korea, Uruguay, Hungary and many others have entered the caviar-production business.”
Meanwhile, Hassan Salehi, head of the Iran Fisheries Organization, spoke last week about the wide gap between Iran’s production of caviar from sturgeons and that of other countries. In May last year, Salehi announced that 2 tons of farmed caviar had been produced in Iran in the previous Iranian year (March 2015-March 2016), adding that half of it had been exported, generating $1.7 million. Al-Monitor unsuccessfully attempted to interview officials at the organization to get exact figures on the country’s caviar exports.
Environmental pollution is not only endangering aquatic life in the Caspian Sea, but also threatening the well-being of the estimated 15 million Iranians living along its coastlines. Kahrom’s advice for those living on its shores and for visiting tourists is to avoid places where rivers flow into the Caspian “because these rivers bring all sorts of pollutants with them.”
He added to Al-Monitor, “If you fly over [the northern province of] Mazandaran in a small plane, you will see that it is muddy where the river empties into the sea. But a few kilometers away, the water becomes blue. I think that if they are wise, the sturgeons should also stay away from these areas.”
(Photo credit: Thor)