The Caspian Sea provides a seemingly inexhaustible source of sturgeon, salmon, and other species of fish, some of which spawn in the chilly streams that flow into this sea from the high Elburz Mountains. In 2000, the total fish catch was 411,500 tons. Caviar of unrivaled quality is produced by the Iranian Fisheries Co., formerly a joint Russo-Iranian venture but now wholly owned by the government of Iran. About 200,000 kg of caviar are sold per year, most of which is exported, providing a substantial share of the world's supply. Exports of fish products in 2000 amounted to nearly $50 million. The fishing grounds of the Persian Gulf were long neglected, but during the 1970s new fishing fleets and packing and conserving facilities were established. The Iran-Iraq war and consequent environmental damage retarded the development of fisheries in this region. Total marine catch has more than doubled from 1982–84 levels.
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