Malaysian ChineseNews Paper
13.12.2014 Cordon Noir Christmas Dinner at a Sturgeon Farm in Tanjung Malin , Malaysia
The New York Times
11th May. 2012
CHUNGJU, SOUTH KOREA — When Han Sang-hun brought 200 sturgeons on a chartered plane from Russia in 1997, South Korean officials regarded the alien fish with a level of suspicion that the owner of a fish pond might reserve for an invasion of sharks. After all, the sturgeon, because of its prickly looks, is called the armored shark in Korean.
“They said if any of them escaped into the rivers, they would ruin the local ecosystem, attacking and devouring other fish,” Mr. Han recalled with a pained amusement. “The sturgeon is a slow-swimming fish with no teeth to speak of.” When he finally extricated his fish from customs, he placed them at a riverside farm in this town 90 kilometers, or 56 miles, southeast of Seoul. For the next 12 years, Mr. Han spent $1 million a year feeding and looking after a stock that grew to 50,000 sturgeons, all children of the original 200. But he got little in return until 2009, when the fish were old enough to yield caviar — one of the world’s most expensive delicacies, selling for as much as $400 per ounce, or $14 a gram.
On a recent spring harvesting day, a farmhand gently massaged a sturgeon’s belly as Mr. Han traced a slender steel device up its egg-laying duct and popped a bulging egg sack inside. Roe poured out like so many black pearls into a bowl.
“This business is not for everyone. You have to invest for 10 to 15 years with no immediate return,” Mr. Han said in an interview at his farm, lamenting that 70 people who bought sturgeons from him to start their farms had all given up, asking him to buy back the fish.
For Mr. Han, the harvest was worth all the hassle, investment and waiting.
The global efforts to curtail the fishing and exporting of caviar from the Caspian Sea — the historical center of sturgeon fisheries, where overfishing, pollution and poaching have depleted wild populations — have squeezed supplies and driven up prices. This year, as it has several times since 2001, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, or Cites, again all but banned international trade in wild caviar. The trend has created business opportunities for sturgeon farms, even in unlikely places like the United Arab Emirates and South Korea.
“The shift to aquaculture and captive breeding of sturgeons in an increasing number of countries all over the world may soon make it difficult for caviar from wild sturgeon populations to find a place in the international market,” Cites said in a report in March.
Mr. Han, a native of a fishing village west of Seoul and an economist by training, saw an early opportunity in the new dynamics of the world’s caviar industry when he visited the republic of Kalmykiya, then part of the Soviet Union and now part of Russia, in 1987. Then employed as a financial specialist at Texas Instruments, he encountered, for the first time, beluga — the most prized sturgeon variety — and began to dream of opening the first sturgeon farm in South Korea.
One of his best business decisions, he said, was to persuade his Russian contacts to sell him 200 gravid sturgeons, not fertilized eggs or fingerlings, in 1997. Not only did those fish provide fingerlings, or baby sturgeons, but also yearly opportunities for Mr. Han and his staff to experiment with developing “sustainable” egg-harvesting skills. This avoids killing the fish for their roe, as traditional sturgeon fishers do, but instead allows them to continue to grow in their pools and spawn again, in around two years.
Most caviar farms still sacrifice their fish, said Phaedra Doukakis-Leslie, a sturgeon expert at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego. But David H.W. Morgan, the chief scientist at Cites, said farms were moving toward sustainable techniques that, given the long time sturgeons take to reach maturity, “would have economic advantages as well.”
Some caviar producers have tried making an incision in the fish’s belly to collect the roe in a piscine version of a Caesarean section. In recent years, fisheries biologists in countries including Iran and the United States have developed techniques similar to Mr. Han’s that are less invasive and stressful. Instead of poking the fish with a screwdriver to find out whether they are ready to spawn, farms now can use a biopsy or ultrasound. Mr. Han said that after years of trial and error, his team has found a way to make that determination by feeling various parts of a fish.
“It is difficult and expensive to change,” said Sergei Reviakin, director of Mottra, a London caviar dealer, explaining why most farms still kill their fish for roe. Also, public opinion has not yet turned against the traditional method, he said.
Mr. Reviakin said his indoor farm in Riga, Latvia, has been practicing sustainable harvesting since 2008. There, he said, trained staff also massage the eggs out of the fish in a method he said was different from Mr. Han’s but that also sometimes involved making a very small incision.
Mr. Han said he did not worry about a growing number of competitors around the world, because an insatiable appetite among the wealthy would keep demand for caviar far outpacing the supply. He has other challenges.
“In the United States, for example, when they hear the word Korea, they think of Kim Jong-il, not caviar,” he said. “Selling caviar from Korea has been like an American chef trying to persuade Korean housewives to buy his kimchi.”
After years of participating in international gourmet food exhibitions, Mr. Han said his product, marketed under the brand Almas Caviar, was finally becoming known. This year, Almas began supplying to some of the top caviar distributors in the world and laying plans to open its own stores in New York and Tokyo. It has also begun selling caviar extracts to cosmetics and pharmaceutical companies.
To meet a growing demand for farmed caviar after Cites’s new ban on wild caviar exports, Mr. Han planned to increase his caviar production from 3.8 tons last year to 6 tons this year, about one-third of his farm’s maximum capacity and about 10 percent of the legal international caviar trade that he forecasts for this year.
There are no reliable estimates on global caviar production. Cites reported that 71 tons of caviar, including 8 tons of wild origin, had been exported in 2010, the last year for which such tallies were available — but the organization does not keep statistics on caviar that is domestically consumed or traded illegally. Mr. Reviakin, for one, says that about 150 tons of caviar is produced in farms annually and that at least three times more than that is sold illegally.
Mr. Han’s company all but monopolizes the domestic South Korean market, where he says he hopes caviar consumption will more than double to 1.5 tons this year. Here, when the rich talk about gourmet food, they still think mainly of raw fish or the choicest cuts of beef. Mr. Han has been trying to change that, sponsoring haute caviar-and-Champagne clubs.
After 15 years of dedicating himself to his sturgeons, Mr. Han compared his farm to a factory with “50,000 workers who can’t speak or form a labor union.”
“They grow listening to their owner’s footsteps,” Mr. Han said, replicating the phrase Korean ginseng farmers use to describe the constant care their crops demand during the six years the roots take to grow before they are ready for harvesting.
Mr. Han, who is 56, must plan carefully for the long term. His fish must grow for 10 years before laying eggs, and they can live to be 150 years old. He plans to expand his stock fourfold to 200,000 sturgeons over the next 15 years.
In 2001, he divided his stock of 50,000 fish and moved half of it to a farm that he opened north of Seoul, hedging against the risk of his fish dying off together in an accident, like a power outage disabling temperature regulation systems.
“However remote the chances are, I must also prepare for things like war,” he said. “Few people seem to believe a war will break out again on the Korean Peninsula. But if you look at our history, hardly a century has gone by without a war.”
With such concerns in mind, he began looking for farm locations in Hokkaido in northern Japan, as well as in Maine and Wyoming in the United States, where he could expand to further reduce his risks.
“The fish will live long after I am gone. I am thinking about who’s going to take care of them when I am no longer here,” Mr. Han said. “Raising sturgeon, I have learned a lot about time, human mortality and environmental preservation.”
Cordon Noirian Chef Helmut move to Kuala Lumpur
see full article at http://www.kommersant.com/p791862/no_more_black_caviar/
Poached Caviar to Disappear from Stores and Restaurants
Amendments to the laws “About fauna” and “About fishing and
preserving aquatic biological resources” came into force on Wednesday.
According to the amendments, all poached products of sturgeon fish
species are to be eliminated. Since the industrial catching of sturgeon
has been prohibited since 2003, almost all caviar sold in stores and
restaurants before August 1st (around 200-300 metric tons in total) was
considered confiscated from poachers. This caviar is now to disappear
Russia’s Ministry of Agriculture spread an official letter on Wednesday, signed
by the ministry’s fishing department’s deputy director Mikhail Glubokovsky,
concerning the extraction and sale of black caviar. Amendments to the laws
“About fauna” and “About fishing and preserving aquatic biological resources”
come into force on August 1, 2007. According to the amendments, all poached
products of sturgeon fish, crabs, and some other kinds of seafood are to be
So far, the products confiscated by state agencies from poachers were sold by
the state through the Federal Property Management Agency and specially
authorized companies. Distributors and retailers estimate annual sales of black
caviar in Russia at 200-300 metric tons.
Russia stopped issuing quotas for industrial catching of sturgeon fish since
2003. The annual amount of legally extracted black caviar is not over 2-3
Experts predict nearly complete disappearance of black caviar from stores and
restaurants, and at least a 50-percent growth of the caviar’s price by the end of
2007. Most stores and restaurants have already given up or plan to give up
selling black caviar.
December 14, 2005 / New York Times
When embargoes on importing beluga took effect in September and October, most dealers said that they already had enough beluga to last through the end of the year. Beluga is the largest of three types of sturgeon legally harvested for caviar in the Caspian Sea. The other two are osetra and sevruga, both of them also the name not only of the fish but also of the caviar. There are also beluga sturgeon in the Black Sea.
Some of the beluga still available is fabulously delicious, but the prices are averaging about $200 an ounce.
At the same time, the production of caviar from farmed sturgeon is increasing, with a general improvement in quality. And the demand for it is climbing.
"This year I have already sold three times as much farmed caviar as last year," said Rod Mitchell, the owner of Browne Trading in Portland, Me., a caviar importer, distributor and retailer. "A lot of chefs are conscious of the need for conservation and insist on it, and individuals are buying it, too."
At Eli's Manhattan, Eli Zabar said this is the first year that he expects to sell a substantial amount of farmed caviar.
Shoppers will find caviar from California, France, Italy and Germany. There is also some farmed caviar from Uruguay, which was very good last year but which some dealers say is less consistent this year. Balducci's has the first caviar from Spain. Greece and China are also beginning production.
Most farms are raising two types of sturgeon for caviar: Siberian sturgeon (Acipenser baerii), a close relative of the Caspian osetra, and white sturgeon (Acipenser transmontanus), a smaller sturgeon native to California and the Pacific Northwest.
While still far cheaper than beluga, prices for farm-raised caviars have increased at least 50 percent over last year, with an ounce routinely listed at $50 to $75. That's what good Caspian osetra was going for just a couple of years ago.
"Caviar supplies, even for farmed product, are tight, so prices are way up," said David Magnotta, the owner of Caviar Russe, an importer, distributor and retailer.
After tasting more than a dozen farmed brands, 10 of which are listed here, in general, I preferred the caviar from the Siberian sturgeon over that from the white sturgeon. I found that sometimes the white sturgeon had a slightly muddy aftertaste, which experts attribute to the habitat, the rivers or other waters in which they are raised. Most German and French sturgeon are cultivated in waterways with direct outlets to the sea, which tends to make for a cleaner-tasting product.
There is yet another kind of sturgeon, the American hackleback, from states like Tennessee, Arkansas and Missouri, and the quality of its caviar has improved. At less than $30 an ounce most places, it is a caviar worth considering for use in cooking or for dabbing on canapés for a crowd. Thanks to better curing, black paddlefish roe, another American product, is almost as good as hackleback.
Shoppers should be aware that relatively inexpensive tins of caviar labeled "American sturgeon" are probably filled with hackleback or paddlefish roe.
Even the tiniest cans or jars that have been repacked from original tins must be labeled to show the type of sturgeon and country of origin. The shelf life is at least one year for an unopened, original tin of fresh caviar (2 to 4 pounds), properly stored at just below 32 degrees Fahrenheit, but smaller amounts last only a few weeks.
In addition to farmed caviars, there are several options from the wild. From the Caspian Sea, Iranian caviar is consistently of high quality. Most of it is sevruga and osetra, with very little Iranian beluga available. Prices are sky-high because the Iranian government has voluntarily limited production for conservation purposes.
Be wary when buying caviar from other Caspian Sea countries. There is no fresh caviar from Russia on the market at all because the country has not had international approval to export it for the past two years.
Beluga, osetra or sevruga caviar labeled as Russian could be from Azerbaijan or possibly (but less likely) from Kazakhstan. Otherwise, it is either over the hill or a black market product, especially if it is being sold on the Internet at prices that are suspiciously low.
"I've had more beluga offered to me on the black market than ever before," said Armen Petrossian, the chairman of the Paris-based company that bears his name. "Of course they say that it's caviar that was in the country before the ban, but I know it's black market. That's why I was against the ban, because I was afraid the black market would explode. It's always that way when something is forbidden."
NATIONAL | October 29, 2005
U.S. Broadens Ban on Caviar to Include Black Sea Basin
By CORNELIA DEAN
By extending the ban to the Black Sea basin, the Fish and Wildlife Service is in effect banning all imports of the most highly prized variety of caviar.
Nach einem excellenten Diner im Hotel Schassberger Ebnisee wurden der Britische Generalkonsul Mark Twigg, Evelyn Gebhardt EU-Parlament, Prof. Dr. Claudia Hübner und Joachim Schramm in den Gourmet Club Cordon Noir aufgenommen. Die Inthronisation erfolgte nachdem die vier Anwärter im Beisein der Mitglieder Senator h.c. Prof Dr. Helmut Baur Konsul von Malaysia, Ernst-Ulrich Schassberger Executive Gourmet Deutschland und Siegfried Steiger Half-Professional-Gourmet an dem von Chefkoch Ernst Karl Schassberger kreierten Menü letzte Hand angelegt hatten. Tatar und Mousse vom Stör im Hühnerei mit Sevruga Caviar, Carpaccio von der Kartoffel mit Limonen Creme Fraiche, Rinderfilettatar und Ossietra Caviar, Tranche vom Bachsaibling und dessen Caviar an hausgemachter Pasta mit Zitronengrasschaum, Scheibe vom Kalbsrücken mit gefülltem Gemüse und Kartoffelstroh an Kräuterjus, Halbgefrorenes von der Gujana Schokolade mit Mango-Passionsfrucht Coulis. Der Freundeskreis Cordon Noir setzt sich weltweit für Aufklärung bezüglich der Kaviargewinnung und gegen den Raubbau und Kaviarschmuggel ein.
Information: Hotel Schassberger
73667 Ebnisee im Schwäbischen Wald
Für eventuelle Nachfragen:
Absender: Iris Schasssberger
Telefon priv. 07184/292101 Tel.gesch.: 07184/2920
| Three-month delay on caviar rules
Last Updated:Friday, 19 March, 2004, 20:02 GMT BBC News World Edition
The countries bordering the Caspian Sea have been given another three months to comply with measures to protect the beluga sturgeon.
The fish, which is an endangered species, is the source of much of the world's beluga caviar.
Wildlife protection officials meeting in Geneva said that Kazakhstan and Russia now had until June to work out a plan to conserve the fish.
They had been facing a possible ban on trading in the prized delicacy.
Environmentalists say the beluga sturgeon could be wiped out in a matter of years by overfishing.
In the past two decades, the population of beluga sturgeon has shrunk by 90% and extensive illegal fishing in the sea and in the rivers where the sturgeon spawn is continuing to reduce their numbers.
Under an agreement backed by the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species - or CITES - Kazakhstan and Russia agreed to take measures to stop poaching and to prevent overfishing.
They say they have done so, but CITES officials meeting in Geneva have apparently concluded they have not done enough, and they have given them a further three months to show they are making progress - or to face a possible ban.
But the spring fishing season when most of this year's catch will be taken has just begun and an US environmental campaign, Caviar Emptor, says the extension will allow the catch of beluga sturgeon to go ahead unimpeded.
Kazakh fisheries officials say that sturgeon numbers are no longer in decline so a ban is unnecessary.
The US government is also considering a ban on the import of beluga caviar to protect the sturgeon.
The US imports 60% of the
world's beluga supply.
|1/28/2004 15:47 EST
Jacob Cortez unloads Bowfin fish from a boat after a morning of fishing in Pierre Part, La, Tuesday January 27, 2004. These bowfin will have their eggs harvested to make caviar. The small but growing American caviar industry is hoping for a boost from federal authorities, who are considering a halt to trade of the priciest caviar from the Caspian Sea. The ban would block imports of beluga caviar -- mouth-watering eggs from the Caspian's largest sturgeon, a 250 million-year-old species that has been ravaged by overfishing and pollution. (AP Photo / Chris Graythen)
|1/28/2004 15:47 EST
John Burke Jr., owner of Louisiana Caviar Company holds up a Bowfin fish that will be used for caviar in Pierre Part, La, Tuesday January 27, 2004. The small but growing American caviar industry is hoping for a boost from federal authorities, who are considering a halt to trade of the priciest caviar from the Caspian Sea. The ban would block imports of beluga caviar -- mouth-watering eggs from the Caspian's largest sturgeon, a 250 million-year-old species that has been ravaged by overfishing and pollution.(AP Photo / Chris Graythen)
Thanks, Erich Sollboeck, for the contribution .
2003 caviar quotas as Caspian Sea
Geneva, 5 September 2003 – The Secretariat of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) has approved quotas for Caspian Sea sturgeon catch and caviar exports in 2003.
“After a decade that saw the collapse of sturgeon stocks due to over-fishing, the governments in the Caspian Sea region are now fully committed to enforcing CITES regulations. As a result of their joint efforts to monitor and manage fish stocks and combat poaching, they are truly starting to turn the situation around,” said CITES Deputy Secretary-General Jim Armstrong.
“The international community has played a vital role by working through CITES to motivate the five partners and support them in putting this valuable commercial resource on a sustainable basis,” he said.
The approved 2003 export quotas for caviar total 146,210 kg, compared with 140,237 kg in 2002 and 153,620 kg in 2001.
The approved quotas for sturgeon
catch and caviar exports are based on information submitted by the Caspian States and on
the Secretariat’s missions to the region to verify
Nevertheless, the Secretariat is
pleased with the slightly lower total catch and caviar
export quotas assigned for this species in 2003, which
should give beluga stocks more time to build up (beluga
take 11 to 17 years to mature). By sacrificing some
immediate income, the region’s governments have
demonstrated their commitment to making the beluga
fishery sustainable over the long term.
Until 1991, two countries – the USSR and Iran – virtually controlled the caviar market, investing heavily in maintaining fish stocks. This made it easy to track the source of any given shipment of caviar. With the demise of the USSR, the system collapsed, and many entrepreneurs dealing in “black gold” sprang up to the replace the state-owned companies.
The Caspian once accounted for 95% of world caviar, although this percentage is now closer to 90%. Official catch levels fell from a peak of about 30,000 tonnes in the late 1970s to less than one tenth that figure in the late 1990s. Reduced river flow, destroyed spawning sites, corruption, poaching, organized crime and illicit trade all contributed to the decline.
One result is that by the late 1990s the illegal catch in the four former Soviet Republics was estimated to be 10 or 12 times higher than the legal take. The legal caviar trade has been estimated to be worth some $100 million annually – making it perhaps the world’s most valuable wildlife resource.
Recognizing the need for action, in 1997 CITES decided to place all remaining, unlisted species of sturgeon on its Appendix II, effective from 1 April 1998. As a result, all exports of caviar and other sturgeon products must comply with strict CITES provisions, including the use of permits and specific labelling requirements. To obtain the necessary permits for export, it must be shown that trade is not detrimental to the long-term survival of the species.
Under the Paris Agreement, the Caspian States committed themselves to increasing their anti-poaching efforts and, where necessary, to changing their national legislation to improve their ability to control domestic markets and enforce their CITES obligations.
The CITES Secretariat is administered by the United Nations Environment Programme.
To read previous press releases, go to Archives.
Wildlife Service postpones beluga sturgeon ruling
Thanks Erich Sollboeck
for the following Orion Article.Big Thanks Orion for
giving our caviar friends of the non financial Cordon
Noir Gourmet Club the possibility reading your article.
Orion pls. let us know how we can help you making you very interesting Orion magazine more saleable. Maybe with a link at our Cordon Noir Web?
Thanks to Time January 20, 2003
Thanks to Time January 20, 2003
if you can not read clearly just go to http://www.time.com/time/asia
and look in there Archives
Caviar Smuggler Gets 30 Months in Prison
MIAMI (Reuters) - A Russian man was sentenced to 30 months in prison for smuggling 98 pounds (44 kg) of caviar into the United States without the required permits, federal prosecutors said on Monday.
Mikhail Ivanovich Kovtun, 59, of Moscow, was arrested at Miami airport in August 2001 with two other passengers who had tins of sturgeon roe hidden in their suitcases. In November 2002, a federal court jury convicted him of violating the Endangered Species Act and lying on his customs declaration, which said he carried no food, wildlife products or commercial goods.
Prosecutors said Kovtun organized the trio's journey from Moscow through Zurich to Miami, arranging for them to smuggle the Russian caviar worth more than $40,000 into the United States.
Caviar is the roe of female sturgeon, a prehistoric fish species found in the Caspian and Black seas. Sturgeon have been protected since 1998 by international treaties that prohibit export of the fish or its eggs without a permit from the country of origin. Importers to the United States must also declare the caviar to customs and wildlife officials.
At a sentencing hearing on Friday U.S. District Judge Ursula Ungaro-Benages ordered Kovtun deported once he finishes his prison sentence.
His two companions, also Russian citizens, pleaded guilty to smuggling charges and had already received prison sentences of six and seven months.
With the sturgeon population dwindling and legal exports limited, customs inspectors have seen a rise in the black market trade of sturgeon roe. In Miami alone, Kovtun was the ninth person in two years sentenced to prison for smuggling caviar.