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B.C. caviar farmer takes over where Russia left off

Target Marine Hatcheries, Canada’s lone producer of certified organic farmed white sturgeon, expects to process two tonnes of caviar this year. Prices for the finished product range from &88 for 30 grams to $4,320 for 1.8 kilograms.

February 12, 2015

Justin Henry knows that good things come to those who wait. Mr. Henry is general manager of Target Marine Hatcheries, Canada’s lone producer of certified organic farmed white sturgeon. Target Marine began raising the fish at its land-based facility in Sechelt, a coastal town near Vancouver, in 2000. But it wasn’t until 2011 that Mr. Henry and his colleagues got their first mature specimens.

Target Marine’s freshwater tanks now teem with some 200,000 local Fraser River sturgeon. Most are small, but the company harvests female fish as big as 140 kilograms for their eggs. Target Marine doubled caviar production to roughly a tonne in 2014, and it expects to process twice that amount this year.

The 16-employee company sells its Northern Divine black caviar – available in tins ranging from 30 grams ($88) to 1.8 kilograms ($4,320) – online as well as to stores, restaurants, distributors and wholesalers. (It also harvests male sturgeon for meat and sells fertilized organic coho salmon eggs to other aquaculture businesses worldwide.)

Target Marine has clients in Canada, the United States, Japan, Europe and Australia, Mr. Henry says. But even though its caviar sales grew 25 per cent in the past year, Northern Divine is far from a household name.

The product has plenty to recommend it. Target Marine began breeding sturgeon partly in anticipation of a caviar shortfall, Mr. Henry notes. Since the breakup of the Soviet Union, the overfished Caspian Sea has gone from being the world’s main source of the delicacy to producing almost none.

[Source: Nick Rockel, The Globe and Mail. Full article - includes video]

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