In Oklahoma, paddlefish eggs are a hot commodity and are worth a pretty penny. Once catching a paddlefish in the state, the angler is required by law to either throw away most or donate all of the eggs to the state. Oklahoma state then turns around and sells paddlefish caviar around the world collecting millions of dollars a year. Government officials claim the sale is all about raising funds for conservation, but many worry that this is driving a profitable poaching business for the paddlefish and their eggs. Prices of caviar have hit $300 an ounce in the U.S. in the past, and with a 40lb paddlefish carrying up to 10 lbs of eggs, that is a pretty big payday for a poacher.
Montana also uses a paddlefish caviar collections station on the Yellowstone River during the spawn. The workers clean and package the angler’s fish, but keep and sell the paddlefish eggs.
This was a summary of an article on outdoorlife.com. The full article goes into great detail about the history and current state of the paddlefish in the United States. Read more about it here: http://www.outdoorlife.com/articles/fishing/2015/03/egg-takers-harvesting-americas-paddlefish-caviar