dealer insists on less killing, DNA tests
AM EST Tuesday, March 4, 2003
A Miami-based gourmet foods importer and distributor is calling
itself the first caviar importer and distributor in the United
States to actively contribute to the protection and preservation
of wild Caspian sturgeon.
which does business as Optimus, said it has agreed with Russian
caviar producer Raskat to purchase beluga, osetra and sevruga
caviar produced without killing adult female sturgeon.
The Caspian's beluga sturgeon population has dropped nearly
90 percent in the last two decades. Researchers have attributed
the decrease to environmental degradation, invasion by exotic
species and overfishing.
Marky's Caviar said the decline prompted it to put controls
on its caviar production and processing, which the company said
will protect and preserve the world's resources of sturgeon.
According to its agreement with the Russian company, Marky's
Caviar said this year, 100 percent of its beluga caviar will
be produced without killing the fish. In 2004, the company said
the agreement will be expanded to include 90 percent for osetra
caviar. In 2005, the company said the agreement will include
limits on killing adult fish to obtain sevruga caviar.
"The adult sturgeon that produce caviar will be tagged
and released back into the wild, where their post-surgical adaptation
and migration patterns will be studied," the company said.
"The agreement also ensures that there is a compensatory
release of sturgeon fry into the Caspian Sea in order to replenish
the declining stocks of sturgeon.
Mark Zaslavsky, Marky's Caviar president, said the people
at his company see themselves as a pioneers in developing solutions
to sturgeon sustainability and restoration. Mark Gelman, Marky's
Caviar vice president and co-founder, indicated the accountability
of an agreement will also help the business show its customers
it's serious about the cause.
"Our customers will have proof that our product has been
obtained in a legal and ecologically sound manner and will know
that they are supporting the sturgeon conservation efforts in
the Caspian region," Gelman said.
Marky's Caviar also claimed to be the first company to require
DNA tests for each species of caviar. The company said the DNA
analysis of the roe of beluga, osetra and sevruga caviar will
allow it to ensure the origin and quality of its product to
To make sure its Russian partner follows through, Marky's
Caviar said its agreement requires Raskat to provide specific
documentation, tracing the entire caviar production process.
"This includes approval of fishing quotas for the season
by the Russian federal government, distribution of quotas among
Russian fishing companies, fishing licenses and permits issued
to caviar distributors, reports from fish processing plans,
export permits, reports on caviar storage and transportation,
and quality control inspection reports upon arrival of the caviar
to the U.S.," Marky's Caviar said.
Yevgeny Aptekar, Raskat chief executive officer, indicated
his cooperation won't be a problem.
"The sturgeon population has depleted significantly from
habitat destruction and over fishing, and we're extremely excited
to provide a solution to this problem," he said.
Mark Berrigan, bureau chief of the Bureau of Aquaculture Development's
division of aquaculture for the Florida Department of Agriculture,
also cheered the deal.
"We support Marky's Caviar and Raskat in their initiatives
to protect and restore sturgeon in the Caspian Sea," he
said. "This agreement will help to save one of the world's
most precious prehistoric fish from becoming extinct."
Marky's Caviar said it will insist all future agreements with
caviar and live fish suppliers comply with the same requirements
as its deal with Raskat.