Geneva A U.N. panel said Monday it has lifted trade bans on beluga and two other types of caviar, effectively ending a year-old embargo of one of the world's most prized delicacies.
Willem Wijnstekers, the head of the U.N.-sponsored conservation body CITES, said countries bordering the Caspian Sea had improved their monitoring of caviar trading and would release millions of young fish into its waters, allowing limited trade to resume.
But he said the decision to grant Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Iran and Russia permission to export 4.15 tons of beluga must be accompanied by further moves to combat declining sturgeon stocks.
Environmentalists condemned the decision to set new quotas for beluga.
"We view this as another nail in the coffin for this species," Julia Roberson of the conservation group Caviar Emptor told The Associated Press. "The most recent information that we had was that the populations of beluga sturgeon from 2004 to 2005 had declined by 45 percent, so it's very irresponsible of CITES to be reopening trade."