Sturgeon (Farmed)

Acipenser, Huso spp.

Method of production — Farmed
Production country — Europe and USA
Production method — Closed system
Picture of Sturgeon (Farmed)

Sustainability rating two info

Sustainability overview

It is unlikely that you will find sturgeon meat for sale in the UK, you are most likely to find farmed caviar available. As wild sturgeon are so depleted, farmed caviar is a good choice. With sturgeon farming there is no dependence on wild fish for broodstock as all fish are bred in hatcheries. Most sturgeon farming in Europe takes place in France.

Feed Resources

Criterion Score: 0 info 

Sturgeon is a fed species, fed in a commercial pelleted specific feed. Only one of the 3 main feed manufacturers produce a sturgeon feed, Biomar, and this company has an internal sourcing policy that ensures traceability of all its feed ingredients, marine and terrestrial, as well as responsible sourcing. Biomar set internal targets to achieve 100% certification of marine proteins and oils, soya and palm oil as of 2019 these targets are almost met. Specific up to date information on the feed requirements of sturgeon are difficult to obtain, however recent reports indicate that sturgeon require more protein that they produce, this will be affected however if the sturgeon just produces caviar and is kept alive post stripping.

Environmental Impacts

Criterion Score: 7 info

The production of sturgeon for caviar and meat takes place in many countries around the world including the UK. Farming occurs in land based production systems which comprise of ponds and tanks on land that either use a recirculation system or a flow through system adjacent to a river. As a result of these land based enclosed systems sturgeon production performs well in the ecological section - issues such as habitat impacts; discharges; parasite transfer; escapes and predator interaction are all mitigated by these systems. The sourcing of broodstock is no longer a concern as they are all farm raised as opposed to being wild caught, an issue that would be critical given the endangered status of many sturgeon species.

Fish Health and Welfare

Criterion Score:-1 info

As this is a global assessment and there are no certification standards that apply the issue of welfare and humane slaughter cannot be answered with any certainty and therefore has to be scored as data deficient.

Management

Criterion Score:-1 info

The management and regulation of sturgeon farming is difficult to ascertain given the global nature of production and the lack of certification in this assessment. Despite this lack of information there is no publicly available evidence to suggest that sturgeon farming is having a wide spread adverse environmental impact, this is due to the land based enclosed nature of production.

Production method

Closed system

Sturgeon is farmed in enclosed land based tank systems. This method of aquaculture prevents many of the problems that can be associated with open water systems such as pollution and escapes.

Alternatives

Based on method of production, fish type, and consumer rating: only fish rated 2 and below are included as an alternative in the list below. Click on a name to show the sustainable options available.

Basa, Tra, Catfish or Vietnamese River Cobbler
Cod, Atlantic Cod
Cod, Pacific Cod
Coley, Saithe
Haddock
Hake, European
Monkfish, Anglerfish, White
Pollock, Alaska, Walleye
Sturgeon (Farmed)
Tilapia

Biology

Sturgeon is the common name used for some 26 species of fish in the family Acipenseridae, one of the oldest families of bony fish in existence, all found in the northern hemisphere. Sometimes Sturgeon is used more exclusively to refer to species in the two best-known genera, Acipenser and Huso. Sturgeon are distinctive for their elongated bodies, lack of scales and rows of bony plates including covering the head. Most sturgeons are anadromous bottom-feeders, spawning upstream and feeding in river deltas and estuaries. While some are entirely freshwater, very few venture into the open ocean beyond near coastal areas. All sturgeon are slow-growing & late-maturing. Young sturgeon primarily feed on algae and bottom- living aquatic invertebrates while remaining in rivers and estuarine environments. Adult sturgeon primarily feed on fish, shellfish and other aquatic invertebrates including amphipods, and shrimp. White sturgeon Acipenser transmontanus is one of the most important sturgeon species in the American continent inhabiting the whole Pacific Coast. The largest freshwater fish in North America ,it can weigh over 1,500 pounds, be 20 feet in length, and live for over 100 years. White sturgeon reach maturity in 15-25 years . Moving into large rivers in the spring, spawning usually takes place in swift current with a rocky bottom, near rapids. White sturgeon can spawn multiple times during their life, and apparently spawn every 4-11 years as they grow and mature. Females can produce from 100,000 to several million eggs each. Eggs are broadcast in the water column and the fertilized eggs sink and attach to the bottom to hatch. Research indicates that water flow is one of the key determinants of larval survival. Siberian or Long-nosed sturgeon, Acipenser baeri, is a freshwater species, but it migrates long distances in the rivers where it is found. Found in all of the major Siberian river basins that drain northward into the Kara, Laptev and East Siberian seas, including the Ob, Yenisei (which drains Lake Baikal via the Angara River) the Lena and Kolyma rivers. It is also found in Kazakhstan and China in the Irtysh River, a major tributary of the Ob. Though variable between and within river basins this species is large; the maximum recorded weight was 210 kg. Long-lived (up to sixty years), and late to reach sexual maturity (males at 11-24 years, females at 20-28 years). They spawn in strong current main stem river channels on stone or gravel substrates. The species has been in steep decline in its natural range due to habitat loss, degradation and poaching. Up to 40% of the Siberian sturgeon spawning habitat has been made inaccessible by damming.

References

"Monterey Bay Aquarium, Seafood Watch. Farmed Sturgeon. United States Land-based flow-through and recirculating aquaculture systems April 14, 2014 Valerie Ethier, Consulting researcher. Available online at: https://www.seafoodwatch.org/-/m/sfw/pdf/reports/s/mba_seafoodwatch_farmedsturgeonreport.pdf. Accessed 02/07/2019

Pauly, Daniel and Watson, Reg (2009), "Spatial Dynamics of Marine Fisheries" In: Simon A. Levin (ed.) The Princeton Guide to Ecology. Pages 501-509.

Biomar. Product Sustainability. Sturgeon. Available online at: https://www.biomar.com/en/global/products-and-species/sturgeon/. Accessed 02/07/2019

Biomar. Sustainability Report. 2018, Available online at: https://www.biomar.com/globalassets/.global/pdf-files-_en/biomar-group-sustainability-report-2018.pdf . Accessed 02/07/2019

FAO?2005-2019.?Cultured Aquatic Species Information Programme. Acipenser baerii. Cultured Aquatic Species Information Programme. Text by Williot, P., Bronzi, P., Benoit, P., Bonpunt, E., Chebanov, M., Domezain, A., Gessner, J., Gulyas, T., Kolman, R., Michaels, J., Sabeau, L. & Vizziano, D. In:?FAO Fisheries and Aquaculture Department?[online]. Rome. Updated 13 January 2005. [Cited 3 July 2019]

Dartagnan. Imported caviar from France: Available online at: https://www.dartagnan.com/osetra-malossol-caviar-imported-from-france.html. Accessed 03/07/2019 "