Caviar comeback

A type of caviar not available on the market for 100 years is making a comeback in Canada.

    A type of Caviar - or fish eggs - that's been off the market for approximately one hundred years is making a comeback in Canada.

    A small aqua-farm near St John in the northeastern province of New Brunswick has spent the past 15 years breeding the Shortnose Breviro Sturgeon which was virtually wiped out by over-fishing around the turn of the last century.

    Now it is the only place in the world licensed to sell the caviar and the delicacy - a staple of cruise lines and high-class restaurants - is set for export round the world.

    Each Shortnose Breviro Sturgeon is worth thousands of dollars.

    "This paunchiness, that's an indication that it's full of eggs!"

    That's Bill Hogans, head of research at Breviro Caviar, the company behind the Shortnose's comeback.

    In the past 15 years Bill and his team have spent countless hours helping the breed flourish again in captivity. Just how, is a closely guarded secret.
    "From spawning to larval rearing to growing of the fish there are many, many techniques that we spent a lot of money, and many years - time - developing that we're just not going to give away for free," he said.

    Ovaries removed

    When a Sturgeon is eight years old it's ready for the caviar to be harvested.

    At this point in our film we warned squeamish viewers to look away.

    "We're going to remove the ovaries from the fish now," said Danielle, who opens up Sturgeon for a living.

    "There's the caviar," I found myself saying as thousands upon thousands of greeny/brown fish eggs tumbled out of the fish's stomach.

    There are other types of caviar produced in Canada but this is the only farm in the world licensed by CITIES - the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species - to sell caviar that comes from Breviro Sturgeon.

    Taste test

    For investors like David Cassidy the caviar business is quite a risk. He told me.

    "It's a long time period, so you need to avoid losing any of your fish stock during that initial eight years until you see a return."

    So the big question, what's it like?

    I can tell you that tradition has it that you taste caviar from a spoon made of pearl so that you don't get any metal taste in your mouth that would otherwise taint the food.

    I dipped my spoon into the small can, which was worth about one hundred dollars.

    My verdict?

    "It's buttery!"

    Caviar's a niche market and there's stiff competition from established brands of wild Sturgeon from Russia and Europe.

    But the Canadians are hoping that, given time, they too can become big fish in a small pond.


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