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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

No Shortage of Onion and Chopped Eggs

It's hardly a tragedy on a par with what is going on around the world these days, but there was some serious bad news for the silver-spoon and vodka set in last week's announcement by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species: It is indefinitely extending the global suspension on Caspian Sea caviar exports.

For anyone who has ladled a teaspoon of pearly beluga onto a sliver of toast with a smidgen of sour cream and a sprinkling of chopped egg and onion, and followed it with a shot of below-freezing vodka, this is sad news indeed.

Still, if a few years of gastronomic sacrifice will help Caspian sturgeons multiply and be fruitful again, then we throw our wholehearted support behind the endangered species organization, known by the distinctly unmellifluous name of CITES, and ardently urge all producers, distributors and consumers to do the same.

The CITES action was prompted by a precipitous decline in the population of sturgeons in the Caspian Sea since the collapse of the Soviet Union. The reasons are not hard to fathom.

Instead of the two authoritarian police states that used to monopolize the caviar trade, the Soviet Union and Iran, there are now five nations -- Russia, Iran, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan -- eager to cash in on the black gold, all of them, with the exception of Iran, not particularly effective in controlling poachers.

Add to that the growing pollution from offshore oil drilling and the fact that sturgeons take many years to mature (the beluga female takes 25 years to start producing eggs).

It's no surprise that there are fewer and fewer fish in the sea, or that their wondrous eggs are becoming ever more precious. An ounce of the best beluga goes for over $250 these days.

The ban is not absolute. Iran is still allowed to export some caviar from the Persian sturgeon, which swims only off Iran, and CITES does not cover domestic trade, which means that trade in sturgeons and caviar is still permitted in local markets.

But with major distributors fully behind CITES, the states around the Caspian might come to realize that killing off the sturgeon is not very smart. We, in the meantime, will try to live off our memories.

This comment ran as an editorial in The New York Times.