Russia, one of the world's largest caviar producers, will export 60 percent less black caviar this year than in 1999, the State Fisheries Committee said Monday. No more than 44 tons of black caviar will be shipped out of the country this year, said Sergei Smirnov, a spokesman for the committee. Fishermen harvested less than 440 tons of beluga and sturgeon in the Volga River this year, he said. That was 176 short tons less than in 1999. Environmental decline in the Caspian and Azov Sea basins, where most of Russia's caviar originates, and extensive poaching had severely cut into fish stocks, Smirnov said. The Interfax news agency quoted the committee's deputy chairman, Vladimir Izmailov, as saying that the shortage would inevitably result in a drastic increase in world prices for black caviar, The Associated Press.
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