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So, Oklahoma caviar is a thing…

1:23 PM EDT on July 15, 2013

oklahoma caviar

Move over natural gas!

Oklahoma has a new pure, clean and abundant natural resource ready to take the world by storm. It's called Paddlefish caviar, and it can be found in murky river or lake water near you.

Via Darren Rovel with ABC News:

Caviar, preferred by society’s upper crust, is now being sourced from the most unlikely of places — Oklahoma.

The most famous caviar comes from Russia, where the Beluga sturgeon live in the Caspian Sea; however, a significant decrease in the number of fish has led to fishing restrictions.

Enter the landlocked state of Oklahoma, where the American paddlefish and its copycat eggs reside in rivers and lakes.

“We’ve had buyers from Europe, Japan, all over,” said Brent Gordon, who works for the state and supervises the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Paddlefish Research Center. “They’re the first to tell us that the quality of our eggs and the quality of our operation is second to none.”

Cool, so how do you cash in on this lucrative new trade? Well, you don't.

He issues fishing permits to anyone interested in snagging a paddlefish.  The free permit includes a service — the state picks up the fish, cleans and filets it and then gives it back. The catch: The wildlife department takes biological samples from the fish for research, and sells whatever caviar it finds....

Gordon said the demand was so high, and the fish so plentiful, that his facility had processed 15,000 pounds of caviar in a monthlong stretch.

Seventy percent of the caviar has already been sold to wholesalers in Japan to the tune of $135 a pound — adding up to $1.4 million.

Wow. That's a good chunk of change and the Wildlife Department gets to control it. I wonder how they spend the money. According to a copycat article on NewsOK.com, the state made $1.5-million on caviar in 2012. Here is how the expenses broke down:

From those Oklahoma caviar sales, $400,000 is spent on running the center, $300,000 is spent on research and $500,000 on law enforcement, he said. The agency has made several arrests in connection with black-market caviar.

Let's see. $400,000 + $300,000 + $500,000 = $1,200,000. When you subtract that from the $1,500,000 million in sales, you've only have $300,000 that's unaccounted for. That's pretty efficient for a government agency! Way to go Wildlife Department!

Anyway, the obvious follow-up question to all this is why are we just now hearing about paddlefish caviar? The thriving Oklahoma caviar trade has been covered by OETA in the past, but that doesn't really count. Maybe Darren Rovel heard that LeBron James likes caviar and he wanted to try and get on the King's good side. I don't know.

Also, why are we not harvesting more of the stuff? Maybe we use caviar sales to make up for all the education funding the lottery was supposed to provide. I guess the answer to that is we don't want the fish to go extinct. I don't really understand that logic. If we're going to use up all of our fossil fuels and destroy the earth, we might as well eat fancy food while we can. Plus, paddlefish are bottom feeders that have been around for millions and millions of years. Their time has come. Let evolution take its course.

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