Australian Government Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities, 2010
This fact sheet provides information on how to legally export or import caviar from and to Australia. It should be read in conjunction with the general information sheets entitled How to export or import wildlife or wildlife products and The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).
The Australian Government is committed to protecting and conserving Australian native wildlife by regulating international trade. This helps to protect targeted species against overexploitation, and Australian ecosystems against the introduction of invasive species.
The Australian Government also works with other nations to protect wildlife globally by implementing CITES (see CITES fact sheet mentioned above).
In Australia, the export and import of wildlife and wildlife products is regulated under Part 13A of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act), which is administered by the Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities.
Regulation applies equally to individuals, commercial organisations and not-for-profit organisations.
Caviar and CITES
Caviar is the processed roe (eggs) of sturgeons, paddlefish and other members of the Acipenseriformes order of fish (roe of other fish species is generally not subject to regulation).
Species of sturgeon include Baltic, shovelnose, Atlantic, beluga, sevruga, paddlefish, shovelfish and white shovelnose. Most are very slow growing, often taking more than 25 years to reach reproductive maturity.
All sturgeon species have been included in CITES Appendix I or II in response to the decline in their wild populations as a result of unregulated international trade.
A re-export permit may be issued for the export of any caviar that has been legally imported into Australia, subject to any conditions legally imposed at the time of import.
Re-exports of caviar may not generally occur more than 18 months after the date of export from the country of origin.
A permit issued by the department is generally needed to legally import caviar.
If the specimens are of a species listed in CITES Appendix II, an export permit must be acquired from the exporting country's CITES management authority before any application for an Australian import permit. A copy of the export permit will be required to support the import permit application.
Caviar of a CITES Appendix I listed species must be sourced from a captive breeding operation registered with the CITES Secretariat. There are currently no such operations registered.
If the import is for commercial purposes and the caviar is a declared specimen (declared by the Minister via Public Gazettal) that has not been bred in captivity, it must be demonstrated that it has been harvested as part of an approved Commercial Import Program (CIP).
Caviar of the beluga sturgeon (Huso huso) originating from the Caspian Sea is a declared specimen, for which there are currently no approved CIPs.
Further details on CIPs can be obtained from the department.
Special permits and exemptions
A permit is not needed to legally export or import in accompanied baggage and for personal purposes, up to 125g of caviar.
What else do I need to know?
Exports and imports of wildlife and wildlife products may also be subject to regulation under the Customs Act 1901 (administered by the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service) and the Quarantine Act 1908 (administered by the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service).
These organisations may be contacted through offices in each state capital, or through their head offices:
Australian Customs and Border Protection Service
5 Constitution Avenue
Canberra ACT 2601
Telephone: 02 6275 6666
Freecall: 1300 363 263
Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service (AQIS)
GPO Box 858
Canberra ACT 2601
Telephone: 02 6272 3933
Freecall: 1800 020 504
Where can I get more information?
For more information on permits please contact the department at the address below.
Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities
Wildlife Trade Regulation Section
GPO BOX 787
Canberra ACT 2601
Phone: 02 6274 1900
Facsimile: 02 6274 1921
The following links may also be of use or interest: