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World Class Caviar on the Sunshine Coast
The irony is not lost on Henry, general manager of Sechelt-based Northern Divine, Canada’s only producer of farmed white sturgeon.
"Here's someone calling us from the home of sturgeon meat and caviar,” says Henry. “Yes, it’s a little ironic.”
Such is the age-old demand and global appreciation for non-fertilized sturgeon roe – otherwise known as true caviar. Until 1991, much of the world’s supply came from the Caspian Sea. The breakup of the Soviet Union that year meant that five countries now bordered the inland ocean – none of them equipped to deal with overfishing, which has since exhausted sturgeon fisheries there.
Those events so far away have had a profound effect on Target Marine Hatcheries in Porpoise Bay. Once better known for producing Coho salmon smolts, Target Marine is where Northern Divine has spent the last 12 years investing in the science of farmed sturgeon and eco-friendly caviar.
The first sturgeon meat went to market in 2002 and last year, that investment bore fruit with the first few kilograms of caviar.
“We want to sell this around the world, but there’s also a strong B.C. focus,” says Henry. “It coincides with people wanting to eat healthier food closer to home and our sturgeon is recognized as sustainable by Ocean Wise.”
Ocean Wise is a Vancouver Aquarium conservation program created to educate consumers about sustainable seafood. Canadian certification standards for organic seafood are expected to be released this spring, and Henry fully expects Northern Divine’s caviar to exceed those standards.
“For a long time, the message was don’t eat caviar because it’s not sustainable. Well, we’re showing it is sustainable and it’s some of the best caviar available,” says Henry.
Travel & Leisure Magazine’s food blog recently ranked Northern Divine’s white sturgeon variety among the world’s top five best sustainable caviars.
Both Northern Divine’s sturgeon and caviar have been big hits at restaurants such as Painted Boat in Pender Harbour, and Saltwater Chophouse in Gibsons, plus Hawksworth Restaurant and C Restaurant in Vancouver. The caviar can also be ordered online at northerndivine.com.
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