Caviar is set to become a luxury of the past due to the thriving trade in illegal sales, charity WWF warned today.
Some 12,000kg of illegal caviar was seized by European authorities between 2000 and 2005, and WWF fears the true figure is likely to be much higher, putting many sturgeon species on the edge of extinction.
A spokeswoman for WWF's wildlife trade monitoring programme TRAFFIC said: "We fear that quantities of illegal caviar are much higher due to the covert nature of the trade."
Germany is the biggest consumer of the delicacy, landing 2,224kg over the five years, compared with the UK's 1,587kg.
WWF said the delayed introduction of a European labelling system, which is set to be introduced at the start of 2006, had hurt efforts to tackle illegal trading.
In September 2004 the United Nations temporarily froze caviar exports to protect fish stocks, pushing wholesale prices up.
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