The Caviar Industry: the Lives of Female Sturgeon Used for their Fish Eggs

The beluga (otherwise known as European Sturgeon) are big fish who are critically endangered because of the caviar industry that sells their eggs. Most caviar (fish eggs) are obtained by killing pregnant females who are at least 10 years old. However, some farms such as the one in the video above, maintain the females alive after they remove their eggs, which means the fish are forced to live in crowded and filthy tanks for many decades. The process of egg harvesting can be repeated every 15 months and throughout the lifetime of the female.

These huge fish can live to be 118 years old and weight more than 1100 kg (2400 lbs). Wild females are caught by fisherman when they swim upstream in order to lay their eggs. The pregnant beluga are then transported to large boats, where they are kept outside the water as they struggle to breathe. In the meantime, workers slit open one pregnant female after the other, to get their eggs. The remains are sold as fish meat.

As horribly violent and painful as it must be for the wild females who are caught, what is done to farmed members is even worse. As all farmed fish, the beluga are also kept in crowded and shallow aqua-farms which are so filthy that they can hardly see their surroundings. It only about a month prior to having their eggs extracted, that females are transferred to “show tanks” which are shallow pools with clean water. This is the only time they get to drink and swim in clean water. The purpose of allowing the fish to swim in clean water is to remove the taste of filthy water from their eggs.

Although from an outside look, all water looks like the same blue surface, to those who live underwater - what’s underneath the water is what matters. As all aqua-farms, caviar farms have no rocks, no places to hide, no vegetation, no other species and hardly any depth or width. Compared with the endless richness that lies underneath the ocean, aqua-farms are just empty, crowded and filthy water-tanks.

It’s hard to comprehend the amount of stress and boredom that farmed beluga experience in aqua-farms. It’s even harder to grasp what it must feel like to have to experience it for decades. Hopefully, a day will come when torturing fish and other animals will be deemed illegal. Until then, let’s start by not supporting the caviar industry, as well as all other industries that hurt animals.

In order to help more animals escape a fate of misery, please give vegan food a try. For an easy start, join Challenge 22 to get free guidance and support for 22 days.

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