February 1, 2023

Cayman Islands DOE reminder about caviar importation regulations

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From Cayman Islands Department of Environment

Following the seizure of caviar at Owen Roberts International Airport last week, the public is reminded that it is necessary to have a permit to import the product.

On 21 November a passenger arriving from Miami with caviar in their luggage did not have the required CITES permit, and failed to make a declaration on their Customs form.

The Department of Agriculture’s airport staff seized the 228 grams of caviar and the passenger was fined for failing to make a full declaration.

“We take this opportunity to remind the public, particularly restaurateurs, that caviar is banned from international trade without a proper CITES permit,” said John Bothwell from the Department of Environment.

If anyone wishes to import caviar it must be accompanied by a CITES permit; an import permit from the Department of Agriculture as well as the normal Customs Dept. paperwork is also required.

CITES – the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species – exists so that global demand for products such as caviar, does not further endanger species including the sturgeon fish that produces the roe which is considered a delicacy.

“By making sure that only caviar with CITES permits comes into the Cayman Islands, restaurateurs and government officials are ensuring that the jurisdiction lives up to its legal and moral obligations to be a good actor when playing our small part on the world stage,” said Mr. Bothwell.

As caviar is one of the most heavily managed CITES-listed products, it also means that the Cayman Islands will not run the risk of being blacklisted for trade in caviar and other CITES products such as conch (imports) and black coral (exports).

In order to make sure that the Cayman Islands is in compliance internationally, all importers or traders in CITES products must be registered with the Department of Commerce and Investment when renewing their Trade and Business Licence. For more information on becoming a CITES registered trader please visit www.DCI.gov.ky and search for CITES.

For caviar to be traded internationally, it must be harvested under strict national quotas. When it is processed there are international regulations on how it is labelled, so that it can be traced back to the actual lot of caviar processed at a particular factory, country and year, as well as the species of sturgeon or paddlefish it is from. Labelling also shows whether the fish was wild-caught (the very endangered kind, in some instances) or from a fish farm.

It then needs a CITES permit if it is to be traded internationally, e.g., imported into the Cayman Islands to be served in restaurants or sold in stores.

“As you can imagine, for a product that requires significant documentation for trading to occur – and which can cost hundreds of dollars per kilogram to purchase – people can sometimes get tricked by unscrupulous sellers into buying illegal caviar,” said Mr. Bothwell. “To protect yourself, to make sure that you are getting the type of caviar you are paying for, and to protect the endangered sturgeons, make sure that you have a CITES permit, and declare your caviar, when bringing it into the Cayman Islands.”

Customs Dept. and Department of Agriculture agents, at the air and sea ports, and the Post Office, will be remaining vigilant for all CITES-listed products coming into the Islands.

“Customs Dept. would like to encourage travellers to make a full declaration of all goods including food, plant and plant products, animals and animal products, wildlife products, etc., and any other goods being imported into the islands as stated on the front and back of the Customs Declaration Form,” said Deputy Collector of Customs Jeff Jackson. “This will expedite your waiting time through the clearance process. We also encourage travellers to check the website of the relevant government agency if you have any questions and seek additional information for requirements when travelling to the country of your choice.”

For anyone wishing to learn more about locally endangered species, and/or obtain a CITES application form, please visit the DoE website at www.doe.ky

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IMAGE: Caviar Star

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