The sales act as both a revenue generator, to help with education and research that goes on at the Vancouver Island University (VIU) facility, and also as a way of building awareness about what the ICSS does.
So far three restaurants – the Westwood Bistro in Nanaimo, Pacific Prime Restaurant and Lounge in Parksville and Edible Canada in Vancouver – are serving up VIU sturgeon products to customers, and cans of smoked sturgeon – processed and smoked locally at St. Jean’s Cannery and Smokehouse – are available at several local retail shops.
“Our sturgeon are grown in a land-based, closed-containment, re-circulating system which is used for training our fisheries and aquaculture students, so there’s a local, environmentally friendly, educational aspect to it,” says Jenny Dawson-Coates, a VIU Fish Health Biologist. “It’s also a really nice fish for eating. In other places in the world, it’s a delicacy.”
The ICSS raises thousands of white sturgeon to age two, at which time fish densities need to be reduced due to space constraints. Because of federal and provincial laws, releasing the fish into the wild is not an option. Selling sturgeon products is an innovative way for the self-funded facility to supplement grant funding.