_A Kentucky couple and their caviar companies were charged today with trafficking in and falsely labeling illegally harvested paddlefish (Polydon spathula), the Department of Justice and the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio announced today.
_The American paddlefish (Polydon spathula), also called the Mississippi paddlefish or the spoonbill (hereinafter paddlefish), is a freshwater fish that is primarily found in the Mississippi River drainage system. Paddlefish eggs are marketed as caviar. Paddlefish were once common in waters throughout the Midwest. However, the global decline in other caviar sources, such as sturgeon, has led to an increased demand for paddlefish caviar. This increased demand has led to over-fishing of paddlefish, and consequent decline of the paddlefish population. Paddlefish, whose eggs are marketed as caviar, are protected by both federal and Ohio law. It is illegal to harvest paddlefish in Ohio waters, but they can be harvested legally in Kentucky waters.