The possibility to make caviar from farmed species would offer a standard product which would be more widely distributed than "wild caviar" and will provide diversified product to fish farmers
The objective is to produce caviar from cultivated sturgeons as a substitute to caviar presently taken from endangered wild species as a measure of their conservation.
Most of the Eurasian sturgeon species are now endangered due to a large part to overfishing and to alteration of habitat (damming) and pollution. Overfishing results from the strong demand for rare and highly priced caviar and there is now some evidence that females at their first reproduction and even at an immature stage are captured in most of the European sturgeon distribution area (ClTES 1993). It is clear that a way to prevent, at least partly, this overfishing is to set up international regulations including a ban on caviar trade. This would be acceptable if alternative ways of caviar production are offered; one of them is to produce caviar of a satisfactory quality from cultivated sturgeon species. To ensure a reasonable feasibility the caviar production should be considered in a commodity chain including several caviar products and also meat production.
The programme includes the following tasks:
1. Rearing sturgeon species up to sexual maturity in an intensive way with pelleted food: Acipenser baeri (the siberian sturgeon) in France or in extensive polyculture production, Polyodon spathulla (the paddelfish) in Moldavia and A.gueldenstadti (the Russian sturgeon) in Romania
2. Production of immature, mature and ovulated oocytes with a) sampling ovaries on killed females with follicles at two well identified physiological stages and two different structures of follicle (before and after oocyte maturation); b) inducing ovulation in order to process caviar from ovulated oocytes (this would prevent the killing of females). The overall idea is to define the optimum follicle stage development for processing the best quality caviar.
3. Caviar processing of the roe and the ova sampled from the various species and elaboration of traditional and new products especially from ova.
4. Chemical composition of roe, ova and caviar from farmed sturgeon compared to "wild" caviar (proximal composition, pesticides, heavy metals). This would help clarify the safety of the presently marketed caviar.
5. Evaluation and characterization of the quality and sensorial properties of the processed caviar and comparison with some standard "wild" caviar found on the market as control.
6. Establishment of an industrial platform including several representatives of the private sector: production, processing and marketing in order to evaluate the economic and commercial feasibility of such a caviar commodity chain considered as a diversification of products in aquaculture. Other potential commodity chains taking into account other sturgeon species and products will be analyzed.
Funding SchemeCSC - Cost-sharing contracts