What’s weirder that eating slimy fish eggs? Farming them in Abu Dhabi’s desert.
Because we have had a multiple-decade infatuation with eating slimy fish eggs, not to mention our obsession with oil and resultant pollution of their habitat, more than three quarters of sturgeon species are critically endangered. As a result, the global supply of caviar from wild fish has declined precipitously. No problem, says Abu Dhabi, just grow some more in the desert.
Khaleej Times recently reported that 22 adult sturgeon were transported via Etihad Airways from Frankfurt, Germany to Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates. Sensitive to environmental changes, the sturgeon were given first class treatment.
Aboard Etihad’s new A330-200 freighter plane, the fish were kept in a climate-controlled environment and arrived safely in their new desert home.
The exchange between Germany’s United Food Technology and UAE Bin Salem Holding will be a boon to the world’s largest caviar farm just outside of Abu Dhabi. Despite the decline of wild caviar production from the 2,000 tons a year during the eighties to just 11 tons at present, the demand for caviar never abated.
According to the paper, demand for caviar in the UAE alone amounts to a whopping 35 tons a year. The size of ten football fields, Abu Dhabi’s farm has a production capacity of approximately 32 tons of fish eggs.
Sturgeon have a long reproductive cycle, long migrations, and are very sensitive to polluted environments. As a result, degradation of their habitats in Iran, Azerbaijan and Russia has left them among the world’s most critically endangered species.
To safeguard remaining populations, the global supply of wild caviar is governed by strict controls, but people who enjoy what has long been considered a tasty delight are under no such restriction.
More on endangered fish species in the Middle East: