Bronzi Paolo

Vice Presidente WSCS (World Sturgeon Conservation Society)

14th February


Speech: Sturgeon farming and caviar production

Sturgeon and caviar productions are a relatively recent practice. In many cases sturgeon farming was an alternative to that of species that had lost part of their commercial interest or to diversify productions. However, over the last 35 years, continued high demand and a good perspective for caviar markets, together with the drastic decline of natural populations and the consequent protection measures of these highly endangered species, made the production of farmed caviar very profitable and has led most of the farmers to rear sturgeons mainly for caviar production. As usually happens, looking at this profitability, several new entities entered in this business, both in the natural range of ​​sturgeons, and also in countries out of it (South America, Madagascar, Vietnam). In 2017 over 50 countries with about 2300 plants are involved in the sturgeon farming for the production both of meat and caviar, with productions estimated in 2015 in about 129,608 t of sturgeons, over 4 times the maximum production from fishery of the eighties, in 2017 decreased to 102,327 tons of meat and 364 tons of caviar, the latter still far from the 3,000 tons of the production from fishery in the eighties. The leader in production is China, which since the early 2000s arrived in 2015 to produce more than 110,000 tons of sturgeon, most of it destined for human consumption, and in 2017 over 100 tons of caviar. This development meets almost unprepared markets. Due to the increase in supply and not yet analogous increasing of the market, prices have decreased over time and the profitability of this activity, even for the long period necessary to obtain caviar, has becoming less interesting and the first signs of trouble have begun to appear, in parallel also with some signs of market expansion. It therefore seems important to inform the new generations, long since far from the use of caviar as accessible food, to make them aware of what caviar is and to create a new widespread market. Italy was among the first European countries to farm sturgeons and to appear on the market with farmed caviar. In 2017 it is the third producer of farmed caviar in the world with over 43 t, after China and Russia, and its production is increasing. Also important are the aspects related to the conservation of these species, for which numerous National Action Plans are being implemented. Last November the Pan European Action Plan for Sturgeons was approved by the Berne Convention, which aims to safeguard the European species considered at the distribution area level. Italy has already achieved some success in the conservation of one of its three species of sturgeons, the Adriatic sturgeon Acipenser naccarii, thanks to the initial foresight and constancy of a trout farmer.

Curriculum Vitae