Press Release Source: Optimus Inc. Gourmet Foods Importer Signs Landmark Agreement That Revolutionizes Caviar Industry

Tuesday March 4, 8:29 am ET

-- Deal Makes Marky's Caviar First U.S. Company to Require DNA Tests for Caviar and Protects Declining Sturgeon Population --


MIAMI, March 4 /PRNewswire/ -- Marky's Caviar, a leading importer in the $100 million caviar industry, today announced an agreement with Raskat, a Russian caviar producer, to purchase beluga, osetra and sevruga caviar produced without killing adult female sturgeon. This landmark agreement enables Marky's Caviar to be the first caviar importer and distributor in the U.S. to actively contribute to the task of protecting and preserving the wild population of Caspian sturgeon.

The Caspian's beluga sturgeon population has dropped by nearly 90 percent over the past two decades due to environmental degradation, invasion of exotic species and over fishing. This rapid decline prompted Marky's Caviar to establish controls on caviar production and processing in order to protect and preserve the world's resources of sturgeon.

According to the agreement, in 2003 100% of beluga caviar will be produced without killing the fish; in 2004, this number will reach 90% for osetra caviar, and in 2005 -- for 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 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.

"We see ourselves as pioneers in developing solutions to sturgeon sustainability and restoration," said Mark Zaslavsky, president of Marky's Caviar. Mark Gelman, vice president and co-founder of Marky's Caviar, added: "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."

In addition, Marky's Caviar is the first company to require DNA batch tests for each species of caviar, which will be 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 Caviar to ensure the origin and quality of its product to customers.

The agreement also 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.

"The sturgeon population has depleted significantly from habitat destruction and over fishing, and we're extremely excited to provide a solution to this problem," said Yevgeny Aptekar, CEO of Raskat.

"We support Marky's Caviar and Raskat in their initiatives to protect and restore sturgeon in the Caspian Sea," said Mark Berrigan, the bureau chief of the Bureau of Aquaculture Development, Division of Aquaculture of Florida Department of Agriculture. "This agreement will help to save one of the world's most precious prehistoric fish from becoming extinct."

Marky's Caviar will insist on all future agreements with caviar and live fish suppliers to comply with these requirements in order to further protect and restore the endangered sturgeon population.