Environmental decline in the Caspian and Azov Sea basins, where most of Russia's caviar originates, and extensive poaching "had severely cut into stocks," according to Sergei Smirnov, a spokesman for Russia's Fisheries Committee. These developments will result in a decline this year of 60% in the volume of export of caviar from Russia, one of the world's largest producers of caviar. The State Fisheries Committee estimates, according to a report by CNN Food Center, that "no more than 44 tons of black caviar will be shipped out of the country this year, as fishermen harvested less than 440 tons of beluga and sturgeon in the Volga River this year." That was 176 short tons less than in 1999.The report said Interfax news agency quoted the Fisheries Committee deputy chairman, Vladimir Izmailov, as saying that the shortage would inevitably result "in drastic increase in world prices for black caviar." Russia is the second largest exporter of caviar, after Iran, according to Interfax.