Over-fishing and pollution

Long before oil or gas was found beneath the seabed, the sea was a rich source of fish and caviar. These resources have been severely depleted by over-fishing. Pollution from oil development poses new risks. Leaks from underwater pipelines would be especially harmful to the Caspian ecosystem.

In 2003, the five coastal states concluded the Framework Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment, the purpose of which is to prevent, reduce, and control pollution of the Caspian Sea.

In 2006, the UN banned trade on wild caviar in order to save the endangered Caspian sturgeon. The ban was lifted in 2007, despite opposition from conservation groups.

The Caspian Summit in Baku in 2010 brought this issue back into focus. The Summit participants decided to institute a ban on fishing within three months, which would last five years to enable sturgeon to repopulate.

In 2012 Kazakhstan proposed that the Caspian Sea be divided into five territorial and fishing zones, one for each littoral state, and to have a common zone open to all five states.