Sadly, it is still a widespread stereotype that 'wild' caviar is the only real, healthy and tasty one. And aquaculture caviar is only a likeness of black caviar. That, alas, is the deepest misconception of all.
Even with the moratorium in place, the scale of poaching and the illegal black caviar market is many times higher than that of lawful production.
Sturgeon species are bottom-feeding fish, picking up food right at the bottom that collects harmful substances, industrial waste and toxins. For this reason, 'wild' caviar is not the cleanest product in terms of green credentials right now. The way caviar from wild fish is extracted must be taken into account besides the state of water they live in and the quality of food they eat. Every time a poacher goes to a river, they will risk being caught by the inspectors. The nets spread out are therefore checked every few days. A sturgeon may be left musty in the nets for a week before it is found and the spawn extracted. The decay products caused by rotting will get into both the meat of the fish and the caviar. This process takes its toll on the quality of the eggs. Poachers add potent banned preservatives to conceal the bad odours and keep the product safe over long distances when in transit, often freezing the caviar more than once.
As a rule, the black caviar extracted illegally is packaged by artisanal methods with no observance of the basic sanitary and epidemiological standards, using prohibited higher-hazard food preservatives, and then traffickers arrange for its transportation to major cities in Russia, the CIS and the Baltic states. Caviar can travel in suitcases and bags masked as normal passenger luggage, in glass jars or even just in plastic bags. The best buy is when you choose legal black caviar from sturgeon fisheries. Again, we wish to address the most common myth about it being 'unnatural'. When sturgeons are kept under conditions that are the closest possible to natural habitats, and when they are fed the appropriate food, then the caviar of these sturgeons and wild sturgeons will be exactly the same in terms of biochemical properties. Caviar extraction techniques now allow caviar to be taken when the grains are at their optimum stage of maturity, avoiding the under-, over- or sub-standard caviar in the end.
When you buy black sturgeon caviar from aquaculture fish farms, you help saving the wild sturgeon stocks, now close to extinction.
All Lemberg Kaviar brand sturgeon caviar is European CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) certified. The additional CITES number label indicates the supplier, time and place of catch. What's more, a CITES label guarantees wholesalers and consumers that the sturgeon the caviar comes from has been caught by legal means.