London, March 20 (ANI): The latest version of the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species has declared the fish family Acipenseridae, more commonly known as sturgeon or caviar fish, as the most endangered group of animals.
According to a report in New Scientist, the report says that 85 per cent of the existing species are endangered, and 63 per cent of them critically endangered, which is the Red List's most threatened category.
Of 25 species of sturgeon that were assessed, just four are not deemed threatened: the lake sturgeon and the white sturgeon - both classed as "least concern" - and the green sturgeon and Gulf sturgeon ("near threatened").
Among the key findings is the discovery that the Beluga sturgeon, source of much of the world's caviar, is now critically endangered.
That's mostly because of over-exploitation, as gourmets believe their unfertilised eggs to be the finest caviar in the world.
Of the other sturgeon species commonly used to produce caviar, the sterlet is listed as vulnerable, while the Persian sturgeon and stellar sturgeon are both critically endangered.
All these species live in the Caspian Sea.
Tests show that people prefer to eat caviar that they believe to have come from a rare species.
People who are given two samples of identical farmed caviar and told one is from a rare species of wild sturgeon claim the "wild" one tastes better than the "farmed" one.
There are now some controls on sturgeon fishing.
International trade was banned for a year in 2006, and the US still bans imports, but because people will pay such high prices for the caviar, a black market continues to thrive. (ANI)