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‘No-Kill Caviar’ Method Claims to Make Superior Product

Caviar is experiencing a sustainable revolution thanks to a determined German scientist whose harvesting technique doesn't harm the sturgeon producing the precious eggs.

No kill caviar harvested by the Köhler method
No kill caviar harvested by the Köhler method | Credit AWI

The eggs of a female sturgeon, caviar is a treasured commodity, but even though this ancient fish survived the extinction event that killed the dinosaurs, the brutal way the eggs were extracted has had the awful consequence of all 27 species becoming Endangered or Critically Endangered in the wild according to the IUCN.

Consequently, trading sturgeon products is strictly controlled, and no wild catches are permitted in most areas of the globe.

Enter “no-kill caviar,” a licensed aquaculture technique developed by polar and marine scientist Angela Köhler from the Alfred Wegener Institute (AWI) in Germany. Her company

offers a license to caviar-culturalists to use their patented method of harvesting caviar from live sturgeon in a method more akin to work in a maternity ward than a slaughterhouse.

Female sturgeon, who bear eggs at around 8 years of age, are monitored with ultrasounds until their eggs are ready, after which they’re gently massaged until their eggs are released naturally. “If conducted correctly, the quality of the caviar is superb,” AWI writes on their website.

Long thought of as cuisine of the wildly wealthy, a new breed of caviar-culturalists are looking to carry on the enjoyment of this culinary treat while helping ensure the survival of sturgeon.


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