The demand for caviar has depleted most of the world's wild sturgeon populations. Imported sturgeon, together with paddlefish and shovelnose sturgeon from the U.S. - and all their caviar products - are ranked "Avoid." Look for U.S.-farmed sturgeon and caviar as a "Good Alternative."
Caviar is the salted eggs or "roe" of sturgeon. Some of the world's best caviar comes from the Caspian Sea and is imported from Iran, Russia and Turkey. The U.S. also has wild sturgeon - white and shovelnose (also known as hackleback) and paddlefish that are harvested for their eggs. These are all ranked "Avoid."
Sturgeon and paddlefish are long-lived, slow-growing fish that reproduce late in life, traits that make them vulnerable to overfishing. In addition, fishery management is weak and many sturgeon are caught illegally. This, combined with water pollution and habitat loss due to dams, has further impacted sturgeon and paddlefish populations and some are at risk of extinction.
Most farmed sturgeon in the U.S. is raised in environmentally friendly farms, where the fish are completely enclosed in tanks and waste water can be treated.