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In its 175 million years on Earth, the sturgeon has prevailed over ice ages and dinosaurs, but it was nearly done in by the fall of communism. With the fragmentation of the Soviet Union, the caviar industry—centred on Caspian beluga sturgeon—became a free-for-all and promptly collapsed. Halfway around the world, in the lumber town of Sechelt, British Columbia, Justin Henry saw an opportunity. The firm he managed, Target Marine Hatcheries, had perfected a salmon aquaculture technology ideally suited to finicky young sturgeon. He studied the caviar industry and thought, Why not us? A few years later, in 2000, he acquired some Fraser River white sturgeon, one of the planet’s few stable sturgeon populations, and got to work. The species had never been cultivated, but research suggested the fish would spawn within eight years. Instead, Henry cooled his heels for an excruciating 13 years, but the wait was worth it. In 2011, Travel + Leisure magazine named his Northern Divine brand among the world’s Top 5 sustainable caviars. Last year, Target Marine produced 400 kilograms, all certified organic. Henry expects to double that amount every year for the foreseeable future. With strong international demand and a retail price of $270 per 100 grams, Northern Divine is set up for sturgeon-like longevity.

Article by Patrick White

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