Passenger fined after caviar found in luggage at ORIA
Department of Agriculture (DOA) staff at the Owen Roberts International Airport (ORIA) on Tuesday seized 228 grams of caviar from a passenger who arrived in the Island from Miami.
Caviar is considered a delicacy, usually consisting of various large fish eggs, especially fish of the Sturgeon family.
The passenger, who did not have the required CITES permit, was fined for failing to make a full declaration.
Following the seizure the Department of Agriculture reminded the public that it is necessary to have a permit to import some agricultural products.
Food products not accompanied by a CITES permit; an import permit from the Department of Agriculture as well as the normal Customs Dept. paperwork can be seized.
In particular, caviar (sturgeon fish eggs) products are protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species.
The DOA noted that in order to make sure that the Cayman Islands is in good standing 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.
“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 John Bothwell from the Department of Environment.
“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,” he added.
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.
A CITES permit is need for caviar to be traded and imported into the Cayman Islands to be served in restaurants or sold in stores.
“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,”added Bothwell.
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).
Deputy Collector of Customs Jeff Jackson further encouraged 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.
“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,” he added