Sturgeon farming in BC

Farmed sturgeon could be BC’s richest resource, yet the slowest growing.

A Taste of BC Aquafarms opened BC’s second closed-containment white sturgeon farm in Nanaimo. This one follows BC’s very first sturgeon farm, Sechelt-based Target Marine Hatcheries.  Caviar and sturgeon meat are highly sought after worldwide. Globally, sturgeon populations are low predominantly due to overfishing, thus resulting in a potentially lucrative agricultural business. Wild sturgeon are an endangered species and are protected by fisheries around the world.

The industry is slow, however. Given that sturgeon are a fish with a long life-span, they take many years to reach maturity. It is not like harvesting Atlantic or steelhead salmon after a year of farming. Instead, it takes a white sturgeon 11 years to reach maturity. It is only after this time the company can benefit from the caviar collected from the fish. Target Marine Hatcheries had their first harvest last year, and they were the first to offer sustainable caviar to a worldwide market.

One reason the sturgeon attracts potential aqua farmers is that it yields caviar, said to be the country’s most valuable agricultural product.

Sechelt-based Target Marine Hatcheries, which has been growing sturgeon since 2000, sells its highly regarded caviar under the Northern Divine brand.

You can buy a 30-gram tin of Northern Divine for $99, and a 100-gram tin for $304. If you really want to splurge, a 1.8-kg tin will cost you $5,148.

Target Marine general manager Justin Henry estimates that by the time a female sturgeon’s meat and caviar reaches consumers’ mouths, the fish can generate sales for retailers of $10,000 to $20,000. [Read full article].