Scottish caviar could be available to purchase in the not-too-distant future, following an application to build a farm capable of producing 1.5 tonnes of the prized fish eggs a year.
The application involves building a state-of-the-art RAS system at Ardkinglass, near Cairndow, on Loch Fyne and has been made by the Edinburgh-registered Fynest Caviar Company.
The site will have the capacity to house around 50 tonnes of sturgeon at any given time. In addition to the output of ‘Osietra quality’ caviar (which typically sells for over £1000 a kilo) it is forecast that a further 10 tonnes of sturgeon products would be produced by the facility each year.
The plans include an onsite broodstock unit to allow the operators to produce their own juveniles, a nursery and an on-growing area. The fish will be moved to depuration tanks before being slaughtered, at which point the roe will be removed and canned on site, while the rest of the carcass will be filleted.
It is by no means the first attempt at producing the highly-prized fish eggs in the UK. In 2006 the Wild Beasts Trust revealed plans to reintroduce sturgeon into Scottish water courses. This never came to fruition, but more recently Exmoor Caviar Farm, in Devon, brought its first crop of cultivated sturgeon eggs to market in 2013.
Budding gourmands hoping for a first taste of Scottish caviar may have to wait a while, however, as female sturgeon can take up to 25 years to mature.