Passenger fined over import of illegal caviar

| 28/11/2017 | 38 Comments

(CNS): Government officials from the Department of Environment and customs are urging people to ensure that they have the relevant permits to import caviar after a passenger who was stopped at Owen Roberts International Airport was fined for failing to declare the product, and the lack of a CITES permit or the necessary local licences. Customs seized 228 grams of caviar from a person who was carrying the famous and costly, delicacy in their luggage on 21 November without the permit. It is important that the Cayman Islands follows international laws when it comes to products governed under these global rules to avoid the jurisdiction being blacklisted and its own CITES trades being impacted.

Caviar must be accompanied by a CITES permit as well as an import permit from the Department of Agriculture and the normal Customs Department paperwork must also be completed. This process is required because caviar comes from an endangered species. The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) aims to ensure that global demand for products like caviar does not further endanger the relevant species, such as the sturgeon fish that produces the roe.

John Bothwell from the DoE said the public, particularly restaurateurs, who want to import the luxury fish eggs need to remember that caviar is banned from international trade without a proper CITES permit as not only do illegal imports put the fish at risk but they pose a threat to Cayman’s CITES governed products, such as the importing of conch and the exporting of black coral.

“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,” Bothwell said, as he explained that caviar is one of the most heavily managed CITES-listed products.

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 and 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 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 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 Department 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.”

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 visit the DCI website and search for CITES. 

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

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Category: Crime, Customs

Comments (38)

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  1. Priscilla says:

    Don’t get me wrong and the law is the law but this fine seemed completely unnecessary, given I cant prove the innocence of the passenger, I simply won’t assume them guilty. I think that passenger probably thought that it was ok because it was a small amount and for personal consumption, besides, there are signs saying that you can not have weapons or certain chemicals on you, I know you cant bring in untreated seeds or citrus produce, but are there any signs that state certain food restriction based on Intl law/agreements posted on the walls?

  2. Anonymous says:

    Take all the underwear, go rambo?️

  3. Anonymous says:

    Grouper roe taste better anyway.

  4. John Lin says:

    I don’t personally eat caviar.

    But you can buy all sorts of caviar at London Heathrow airport all packed in ice for travel.

    Anyone going through that airport could buy it and put it in their hand luggage without the first idea that you need a CITES certificate and an import permit.

    And how would you get an import permit from the Cayman Islands government while sitting in the departure lounge?
    How ridiculous.
    Just another high value tourist who will tell all his friends what idiots we are.

  5. Anonymous says:

    So am I allowed to bring a chocolate bar into the country or should I declare that as well? Serious question.

    • Anonymous says:

      I would declare it. I was once questioned as to why I hadn’t declared a half eaten small box of macaroons, purchase at MIA.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Are we talking ALL caviar or specifically sturgeon? What about salmon, lumpfish, trout etc?

    • Anonymous says:

      One wonders where and how HM Customs received this specialized training to discern wild caught sturgeon roe from north of the Caspian. Plenty of (seemingly) CITES-exempt caviar in MIA duty free at Terminal B12.

    • I Wanna Be A Developer says:

      Just sturgeon, the ‘imitation’ caviars are excluded. Except paddlefish roe ‘caviar’. Which you might find in Cuba from their aquaculture operations.

  7. Anonymous says:

    This from a government that encourages the slaughter of endangered turtles.

    • I Wanna Be A Developer says:

      Just like you can farm sturgeon and sell the caviar through CITES you can farm turtles. … Actually, not quite the same since we can’t get the turtle products out under CITES. – Interestingly, internationally, some sturgeon species are probably more endangered than turtle species.

    • Anonymous says:

      The government should be welcoming people who eat Caviar , not cowfoot.

  8. Trump says:

    Hehe, obviously for personal consumption, who makes these things up?
    Should have brought building materials for a hotel then u wouldn’t get taxed at all,

  9. Anonymous says:

    The law is the law obey it regardless. I dont like wiping my a$$ but i have to do it.

  10. Anonymous says:

    They need to go out and catch the poachers and stop wasting time with press releases like this.

    • Anonymous says:

      Are you serious,go catch the poachers,WTF I’m I reading here you all ready to condemn a man for taking a few conch and lobsters but when these rich devils talk about caviar there seems to be nothing wrong,talk about hypocrisy caviar is fish eggs they eat it and uses it for other cosmetic purposes,imagine the amount of fish eggs they kill annually in the world just to satisfy their disgusting needs,to me that sounds more like up rooting the tree not just picking the fruit,anyways maybe we should look into cannibalism and start eating the rich that would probably help the world sustain some more life for the environment.

  11. West bay Premier says:

    They should have let them through with it because that was just for personal consumption or my Christmas party . I got to have some big boys over to my house for my Christmas party .

  12. Anonymous says:

    228g of caviar? Looks like another “wedding dress” and grandmas xmas gifts fiasco. The land of crazy laws that enforced arbitrarily.

    • Anonymous says:

      3.32pm The land of crazy laws,that let you come and stay awhile and now can”y get rids off you. Yet you bite the hand that’s helping you.

    • I Wanna Be A Developer says:

      Its an international rule. Any country in the world should have enforced it the same way.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Remember kids, respect your extortion laws or you’ll pay the price!

  14. Anonymous says:

    I bet if he road a dirt bike off the plane he would have gotten away…………..

  15. Anonymous says:

    Gonna just hide some caviar in my bag to distract them from the sex toys
    Caviar may be a delicacy, but I’ll be rolling in dough if I can sneak in some high end tech to my single mother clients

  16. Anonymous says:

    oh my….i rather catch my own locally!?

  17. Anonymous says:

    But when you’re a customs officer importing cocaine, you get sent home with pay.


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