A possible ban on imports of beluga caviar could mean restaurants increase their purchases of alternatives from the US and elsewhere, restaurateurs have said.

The US government has moved a step closer to introducing restrictions on imports of beluga caviar from the Caspian region by listing the beluga sturgeon as a species whose survival is threatened under the Endangered Species Act, reported the Associated Press. Overfishing and poaching have led to a decrease in the population of the beluga sturgeon.

“Female beluga sturgeon are considered the world’s most valuable commercially harvested fish because they supply beluga caviar, one of the most highly prized delicacies in the world,” the US Fish & Wildlife Service said.  

However, concerns about future bans on sturgeon fishing have led to an increase in farmed sturgeon production in the US.

“For a long time the only respected caviar came out of the Caspian Sea. That’s no longer the case anymore,” said Eve Vega, executive director of Petrossian Paris, a caviar importer, distributor and restaurant operator.

Vega said her company offers caviar from Iran, Bulgaria, Russia and the US and is always looking out for other types of the luxury product.