Press Release Source: Optimus Inc. U.S. Gourmet Foods Importer First to Transport Live Caspian Beluga Sturgeon to America

Monday June 9, 9:00 am ET

-- Marky's continues efforts to revolutionize the caviar industry with this first step to develop a domestic stock of Caspian beluga sturgeon --


MIAMI, June 9, 2003: Marky's, leading importer in the multimillion dollar caviar industry, announced today the arrival of five live beluga sturgeon. The shipment marks the first time live beluga sturgeon, the source of the world's finest caviar, have been transported to the U.S.

The five beluga sturgeon, each averaging about eight pounds, arrived at Miami International Airport and were later taken to a holding facility near Orlando, Fla. The beluga sturgeon will serve as the initial stock for Sturgeon Aquafarms, an aquaculture facility to be built in Central Florida by Marky's.

Over the past two decades, the Caspian's beluga sturgeon population has dropped significantly due to environmental degradation, invasion of exotic species and over fishing. This decline has prompted companies like Marky's to take steps toward relieving the pressure on the world population of sturgeon, supplementing the wild catch with farmed caviar.

"In bringing Caspian beluga sturgeon to the U.S., we hope to provide consumers with the authentic flavor of Russian caviar they crave while allowing our customers to make an environmentally responsible choice when purchasing top-quality caviar from the Caspian region," said Mark Zaslavsky, president of Marky's.

Many conservation groups, including the Wildlife Conservation Society and the Natural Resources Defense Council, have appealed to Americans to purchase caviar only from farm-bred sturgeon. Until now, American aquafarms have primarily produced paddlefish roe or California white sturgeon varieties of caviar, which have their own distinct flavor. However, in using Caspian sturgeon, Marky's will bring an authentic product and unmatched domestic quality to the market.

The importation of live beluga sturgeon and the construction of an aquaculture facility to farm this native Caspian stock is only part of Marky's work to change the face of the caviar industry and aid sturgeon conservation efforts. In March 2003, Marky's signed a landmark agreement with Raskat, a Russian caviar producer, to purchase beluga, osetra and sevruga caviar produced without killing adult female sturgeon. This agreement also ensures there is a compensatory release of sturgeon fry into the Caspian Sea in order to replenish the declining stocks of sturgeon.

In addition, under the agreement with Raskat, Marky's also became the first company to require DNA batch tests for each species of caviar, which are verified by the CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) Scientific Authority of the Russian Federation. This DNA analysis of the roe of beluga, osetra and sevruga caviar enables Marky's to ensure the origin and quality of its product to customers.