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Author Topic: sablefish farmers get a boost from Ottawa  (Read 1886 times)


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sablefish farmers get a boost from Ottawa
« on: March 30, 2009, 06:47:00 PM »

.C. sablefish farmers get a boost from Ottawa, and target sushi chefs in Japan
By Joanne Lee-Young, VANCOUVER SUNMarch 30, 2009
Sablefish farmers in B.C. are few and far between, but like their salmon-raising counterparts, they have battled to be heard in the debate over wild-versus-aquaculture sources.

Now, they are getting a quiet boost from Ottawa, which has anointed their product one of the most promising seafood species for Canada to develop.

"The goal is for the DFO [the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans] to start prioritizing their research and development dollars for aquaculture where they will have the highest chance of return," said Bruce Morton, president of Sable Fish Canada Ltd., a Salt Spring Island-based farm.

Even though there is barely a handful of producers in B.C., the industry has the potential to hit $200 million a year by 2020, according to the Canadian Aquaculture Industry Alliance.

Wild sablefish has been fished off the coast of B.C. for more than 40 years. The black-skinned fish, known also as black cod, has long been a staple in many Asian households and restaurants in B.C. and is prized for its oily, Omega-3 filled texture. Recently, chefs at high end, mainstream restaurants have marketed it as a local delicacy. Usually, it is steamed, grilled or smoked. Much of the wild supply, however, is exported to Japan and other Asian markets including Hong Kong and Korea. It has mostly been sold in 100-gram portions, marinated in miso paste, ready for grilling or smoking.

Sablefish farmers are focused on the same buyers, although Morton has dabbled with local buyers in Vancouver. Whole Foods carried it. Earls Restaurant featured it for several months. But buyers in Asia are willing to pay significantly more per pound for farmed sablefish than local buyers.

Currently, Morton air-ships one 2,500-pound container to Tokyo a week, and smaller quantities to Hong Kong and South Korea. Instead of competing against wild sablefish and selling farmed fish as something to grill or smoke, Morton is trying to carve out a new niche by convincing restaurant chefs to use his sablefish for higher-value raw uses, sushi and sashimi.

"This is a new opportunity," he said. "When we started shipping it, our Japanese agent had it priced so high compared to the wild stuff that the market, by accident, thought that if it is so expensive, we can only recoup our costs by using it for sushi or sashimi. And we made it clear that this is possible. We thought it would take a decade for Japanese buyers to adapt and use it for sushi, but we are seeing a more immediate result."

The hope is that if sushi and sashimi chefs in Japan deem B.C. farmed sablefish to be coveted, other purveyors of high-end Japanese cuisine in North America and Europe might follow.

But one of Vancouver's most influential sushi marketers is skeptical. "I don't know. In Japan, there are so many types of fish that are good for sushi," said Hidekazu Tojo, owner of Tojo's Restaurant.

Copyright (c) The Vancouver Sun
another SLICE of dirty fish perhaps?

Sam Salmon

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Re: sablefish farmers get a boost from Ottawa
« Reply #1 on: March 30, 2009, 08:33:42 PM »

Troutbreath-Thanks for posting about this-a quick web search found some interesting info.

Of course Commercial Sablefish fishermen don't like the competition at all.

A Sablefish farm in Kyuquot has this website I wonder how they keep the Otters out?

Govt approved info

more pro farmed copy