Swimming start to UAE's world's largest caviar farm project

Etihad Crystal Cargo delivers 22 live adult sturgeon to the world's biggest caviar factory in Abu Dhabi, as the UAE's demand for the delicacy surges - with video.

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Talk about flying fish - Etihad Crystal Cargo has delivered a shipment of 22 live adult sturgeon to a facility in Abu Dhabi, which is aiming to become the world's largest caviar factory.

The fish were flown in from Frankfurt Hahn Airport, arriving in Abu Dhabi in the early hours of March 21 to be transported to the factory in Musaffah.

Roy Kinnear, Etihad Airways' senior vice president for cargo, said: "Etihad is proud of its reputation for carrying precious cargo and this now includes sturgeon fish, which are on the list of global endangered species.

"The Etihad Crystal Cargo team, working closely with our ground handling colleagues and clients, demonstrated expertise and co-ordination skills to ensure the fish were shipped safely from Frankfurt to their new home in the UAE."

Abu Dhabi's taste for caviar has grown alongside its economic development. While Russian and European expatriates are still the biggest customers locally, restaurants and wholesalers said they were seeing increased demand from Emiratis and other Gulf nationals.

The growing demand, alongside international regulations on caviar export, led Bin Salem Holding and United Food Technologies, a German company, to develop the first caviar farm in the Middle East.

While the plant has taken delivery of young sturgeon by sea, Etihad's delivery is the first time the fully-developed adult fish have been flown in for use, as Bin Salem ramps up its production.

"Each sturgeon was transported in a specially designed container in a temperature controlled environment which was always between 10 and 15 degrees centigrade. At each stage of the process the pallets were loaded and unloaded within minutes," the company said in a statement.

All of the fish arrived safely, the company added.

Long considered a delicacy by the aristocracies of Europe, the export of caviar from the endangered wild Caspian sturgeon was limited by United Nations in 2006 to prevent over-farming by the five countries which border the Central Asian sea.