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The Caspian Sea and the Persian Gulf remained the country's two largest fishing areas. A variety of fish were found in both bodies of water; catches totaled 44,800 tons in 1981 and 34,500 tons in 1983. Fishing in the Persian Gulf has declined since the onset of war with Iraq. By 1986 national freshwater catches totaled only 25,000 to 35,000 tons per year.
Commercial fishing was controlled by two state-owned enterprises, the Northern Fishing Company operating in the Caspian Sea and the Southern Fisheries Company in the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman. Sturgeon, white salmon, whitefish, carp, bream, pike, and catfish predominate in the Caspian, and sardines, sole, tuna, bream, snapper, mackerel, swordfish, and shrimp predominate in the Persian Gulf.
The Caspian sturgeon was of particular importance because it produces the roe that is processed into caviar. Known as "gray pearls," Iranian caviar is said to be the finest in the world and commands a high price. The main importers of Iranian caviar were the Soviet Union and the West European countries. Increasing pollution in the Caspian Sea, however, posed a threat to the industry.
Source: U.S. Library of Congress