There’s Something Fishy About Vancouver Island University’s New Venture

Something fishy is happening at Vancouver Island University’s International Centre for Sturgeon Studies (ICSS) in Nanaimo.

The ICSS recently started selling cans of smoked sturgeon and fresh fillets to restaurants and retailers as a revenue generator to help with the education and research that goes on at the facility and to raise awareness about these “living fossils.”


The Bistro at Westwood Lake in Nanaimo, Pacific Prime Restaurant and Lounge in Parksville and Edible Canada in Vancouver are the first restaurants serving VIU sturgeon products to customers. Cans of smoked sturgeon, processed and smoked locally at St. Jean’s Cannery and Smokehouse, are available at several local retail shops.

 “Our sturgeon are grown in a land-based, closed-containment, recirculating system which is used for training our fisheries and aquaculture students, so there’s a local, environmentally friendly, educational aspect to it,” says Jenny Dawson-Coates, a VIU Fish Health Biologist. “It’s also a really nice fish for eating. In other places in the world, it’s a delicacy.”

The ICSS raises thousands of white sturgeon to age two, at which time fish densities need to be reduced due to space constraints. Because of federal and provincial laws, releasing the fish into the wild is not an option.

Fishy Facts

-White sturgeon can grow up to six metres long and can live up to 100 years.
-Sturgeon have been swimming the waters of the world for more than 200 million years.