Law enforcement officers from Indiana and Illinois have increased their
enforcement efforts of domestic caviar regulations since the onset of the
2012-13 Wabash River shovelnose sturgeon season, the Indiana Department of
Natural Resources said.
Conservation officers from both states have recently increased its
enforcement of the commercial fishing industry, particularly in the
commercial harvest of shovelnose sturgeon, a fish sought for its roe, or
eggs. Thirteen Indiana and Illinois residents have been arrested, cited, or
warned for commercial fishing violations in the last year, the DNR said,
while equipment seizures include 35 commercial fishing nets, three trot
lines, two wire fish traps, and one boat/motor.
These violations include the following:
Unlawful use of a gill net (6 counts)
Failure to tag commercial fishing equipment (7 counts)
Unlawful use of leads on commercial device (2 counts)
Unlawful possession of sturgeon under 25 (4 counts)
Fishing with an illegal device (wire trap) (2 counts)
Fishing without a license (3 counts)
Checking sturgeon for presence of eggs with an illegal
device (2 counts)
Since we share the fisheries resources with the people of the State of
Illinois, it only makes sense to ensure that our regulations and enforcement
efforts remain similar, said Master Officer Steve Kinne, a commercial
fishing investigator with the DNR. At least 25 additional violations are
being investigated for prosecution, involving several other individuals from
The shovelnose sturgeon is native to the waters of the Mississippi,
Illinois, and Wabash rivers. Although some sport fishermen consume the meat
from shovelnose sturgeon, its eggs have been targeted by commercial
fishermen in recent years, after the collapse of the European sturgeon
market. Supplies of roe collected from sturgeon in the Caspian Sea plummeted
after government deregulation in that region.
Female shovelnose sturgeon living in the Wabash River migrate upstream
annually to spawn. Its eggs, referred to as roe, are eventually sold,
processed, and distributed as caviar. Processed shovelnose sturgeon roe
(eggs), commonly referred to as hackleback caviar, currently has a retail
market value of approximately $320 per pound. One adult roe-bearing sturgeon
can contain as much as one pound of eggs.
The Wabash River population of shovelnose sturgeon is one of the last
commercially exploited sturgeon populations in the world, therefore, strict
enforcement of regulations are necessary to ensure proper management while
allowing a sustainable harvest, DNR fish biologist Craig Jansen said.
Commercial fishermen in both states are allowed to take shovelnose sturgeon
with approved commercial fishing devices on the Wabash River, as long as
they possess the required licenses, the DNR said.
Approved commercial fishing devices in either state include, but are not
limited to, hoop nets, fyke nets, basket nets, and basket traps, or trap
nets made of twine or cord. Gill nets are prohibited in both states for
For additional information on commercial fishing regulations and season
dates, go to