In 1991, eight years after research on sturgeons began in 1983 in the Miyazaki Prefecture, they succeeded in the artificial crossbreeding of beluga sturgeon and Acipenser ruthenus which had previously only been done by the nation’s research institution. In 1993, they began research on white sturgeon, and in 2004 were the first in the nation to succeed in complete farm raising (a production cycle that does not rely on nature). They currently farm raise several tens of thousands of sturgeon, and breed the top number in the nation.
Sales of Fish and Caviar Increasing in Popularity
It is well known that sturgeon eggs are caviar, but it is not as known in Japan that the meat of males or the meat of females that have finished laying eggs are used as food overseas. They are considered delicacies known as “royal fish” in Europe and “emperor fish” in China, and sturgeon is also popular as an ingredient for immortality as they can live close to 100 years. In terms of nutrition, they are rich in carnosine, said to be effective for preventing dementia, as well as collagen, known for beautification. It is currently undergoing a variety of research because all parts except for the skull and scales can be consumed.
Adult White Sturgeon (13th year)
Success in Complete Farm Raising after 30 Years of Research
Miyazaki Prefecture and Sturgeon
Here is some information on sturgeon. According to the Miyazaki Prefecture Fishery Policy Section, Sturgeon or “Cho-zame” were named after the butterfly (“cho” in Japanese) because their appearance and scale shape resemble butterflies. Though its appearance resembles that of a shark, it is not a member of the shark family, and is filed under the order “sturgeon.” There are over 27 types confirmed around the world, some of which spend its life in fresh water, develop in sea water then go upstream to lay eggs.
Moreover, they are not as violent as sharks, and are able to survive a wide range of water temperatures, making them easier to breed. They are suitable as aquarium fish as well.
Miyazaki Prefecture first came into contact with sturgeon in 1983 when the bester sturgeon was gifted by the former Soviet Union as a symbol of friendship with Japanese fisheries. The Miyazaki Prefectural Fisheries Research Institute in the city of Kobayashi, which had been looking for a specialty product that could be a replacement for sweetfish and rainbow trout that was popular at the time, elected itself to receive the fish, which is how the research first began.
The Future of Prefecture-Raised Sturgeon and Caviar
Currently, the number of businesses within the prefecture that breed Miyazaki Prefecture white sturgeon has capped at 19. Aiming for a stable supply in the future, they are looking to increase the number of members and expand farming businesses.
Moreover, the number of sturgeons has declined in countries famous for producing caviar such as Russia and North America, due to overfishing and environmental pollution. As a result, there are currently very little naturally produced caviar, and farmed caviar is becoming mainstream.
Under these circumstances, it is of significance that a system for farming, as well as a supply system for fish meat and caviar were created in Miyazaki Prefecture.
Aside from being a hot topic and being supported by Miyazaki Prefecture as a whole, the prefecture has seen an increased volume of inquiries not only from within the prefecture but from external regions as well as overseas due to the fact that they produce “fresh caviar” that does not use “low temperature pasteurization” or “high salinity treatment” for long term preservation. Their processed goods business, including smoked and sausage products currently being researched, is getting a foothold in the industry as well. Further development in the future is expected.
Miyazaki Caviar 1983