Thu, Oct 27, 2016 - Page 7 News List

FEATURE: Uruguay fish farm takes on caviar market

AFP, BAYGORRIA, Uruguay

He attributes the product’s exceptional quality to the steady flow of water through breeding tanks in the sleepy village of Baygorria.

It comes from the Black River’s calm waters, which run through the farm in Baygorria, in and out of the reservoir about 270km from Montevideo.

“They do not have to pay for a filter system,” Chauvin said. “Where they are, three hours’ drive from Montevideo, there is no industry and no pollution.”

Swimming around in 6m iron cages, the sturgeon quietly get fatter.

Caviar-bearing female sturgeon spend seven to 10 years growing to full size.

When the time is right, they are fished out and dispatched with a knock to the head.

Workers cut the fish bellies open and pull out their egg sacs.

Alcalde, a trained “caviar master,” tastes the goods. He rinses them and adds salt to drain out the water and harden the tiny eggs.

The firm started out using Siberian osetra sturgeon and is now also breeding beluga, the species that yields the world’s most sought after caviar.

The fish farmers are patiently waiting for their beluga to mature and start producing eggs.

Black River aims to raise production to 10 tonnes in 2018.

Although consumers still find the idea of Uruguayan caviar surprising, the prospects are good, Chauvin said.

Unlike caviar from China, which “makes people think it is dodgy, Uruguay is easier to sell,” he said.

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