The problem is these very large fish take over a decade to get to this point, and with poachers literally scooping out all of the next generation from their mom's bellies, the population is in trouble. The demand for caviar likely isn't going anywhere, so how to save these fish from the fate of other endangered species? Aquaculture! Click to read more below.
Some fun sturgeon facts. They continue growing up until their death, and the longest sturgeon ever caught was over 18 ft. It weighed a whopping 4,400 lbs. Imagine two cows put together in a freshwater fish! As sturgeon are always growing slowly, their breeding cycles are very long, with a female taking up to 20 years to reach maturity. Because of this lengthy breeding time and the cultural value of caviar, sturgeon is one of the most valuable fish on the planet, pound per pound.
If you're a fisherman, sturgeon seems like a great time investment! That the unfortunate part. Check out this video below on how poachers in America's Pacific Northwest are ignoring the length limits and looking to cash in by selling wild sturgeon on the black market:
Luckily, many entrepreneurial aquaculture farmers have started investing in sturgeon. Unlike other farmed fish, sturgeon's payoff time is significantly longer, but it can also be renewable, depending on the farming methods. Modern Farmer recently profiled Atlantic Caviar & Sturgeon, an aquaculture farm in North Carolina that's looking to bridge the gap between farmed and wild sturgeon caviar. And they're doing it. With the improvements in farming technology and the decline of wild populations, the market price for farmed caviar is rising to compete on the same levels as wild-caught roe. They're also working on marketing sturgeon meat to the US market. It's supposedly a "steaky" fish. I'd love to try some.
So next time you're feeling fancy and go shopping for some caviar, look on the label. Make sure you choose farmed and let's save the sturgeon!