News 335 views last update:6 Aug 2012

Israel to produce its own sturgeons

In the past, the Caspian Sea was the world's main source of sturgeon that produces the black fish roe delicacy. However, over-fishing and pollution have led to dwindling fishing yields in the region. Scientists at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem are therefore raising the fish in their own country: Israel.

Prof. Berta Levavi-Sivan of the Hebrew University's Robert H. Smith Faculty of Agricultural, Food and Environmental Quality Sciences and Dr. Avshalom Hurvitz began rearing the fish eight years ago when they brought fertilized sturgeon eggs to Israel from the Caspian Sea. According to Sivan, it takes eight to fifteen years for the female sturgeon to reach puberty and start producing eggs, while male sturgeon reach puberty after four or five years. Before the age of four, it is impossible to tell the gender of the fish. In order to determine this, an endoscopy is routinely carried out on the fish every year. Once the gender of the fish is determined, they are then separated. Male sturgeon will be sold as fish on the market, while the female sturgeon will be kept in order to produce caviar.

Significant demand
The average female sturgeon can produce US$3,000 worth of caviar. This is proving to be big business for Kibbutz Dan in the north of Israel, where 40,000 of the sturgeon are now being reared in outdoor pools. Managing director of 'Caviar Galilee' in Kibbutz Dan, Yigal Ben-Tzvi, estimates that by 2010, the company's annual revenues will reach US$7.3 million. While there is significant demand for caviar in Israel among the country's sizeable Russian population, the intention of the producers is to market the fish for export to Europe and North America. Prof. Levavi-Sivan is also now looking for ways to speed up the puberty process of the female sturgeon in order to reduce the time it takes to produce the caviar.

Related folder:
Dossier AllAbout Aquafeed  

Related website:
Hebrew University

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