(CN) – A Kentucky couple and their caviar companies were charged in a federal indictment for illegally harvesting paddlefish eggs in the Ohio River.
Authorities say Steve and Cornelia Kinder, who run Kinder Caviar and Black Star Caviar, lied to the Kentucky Department of Fish & Wildlife Resources about the origin of paddlefish eggs they planned to export. The couple and their companies were charged in Ohio’s Southern District Court.
While paddlefish can be harvested in Kentucky, the practice is illegal in Ohio. The Kinders falsely identified their home state as having produced their catches, according to the indictment. Prosecutors say the Kinders also lied about the weight of their catches and the names of fishermen.
As the populations of popular caviar fish like sturgeon are shrinking globally, experts say paddlefish eggs are in higher demand. Paddlefish were once common in the Midwest, but are now protected by the Lacey Act and the Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species.
If convicted, the Kinders face up to five years in prison.