Arctic Char Doesn’t Have to Come from the Arctic
Aquaculturalist and former Buffalo/Cattle farmer Gary Klassen was definitely swimming upstream when he decided to raise Arctic Char in the warm climate of Oliver, BC. Arctic Char, associated with the cold water of the north, however turned out to be a perfect match for the South Okanagan, and all because Klassen’s well water sits at an optimal 12 degrees Celsius.
Licensed by Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Klassen’s DelicaSea Fish Co. is operating a Closed Containment Aquaculture Facility for raising Arctic Char in a sustainable and efficient way, conforming to both Oceanwise and SeaChoice ‘Best Choice’ standards. The fish are raised in tanks with no antibiotics or drugs and with the well water at the perfect temperature, there is no need to further chill or adjust. Eggs come from the Yukon and are transported to Oliver where within 18 months they grow to market size (about 1kg). With the constant temperature and not the dramatic cooling that the Yukon gives the char each winter, the char mature more quickly and efficiently at the farm, meaning that less feed is required than for comparable operations. Currently the production is still small at only 300 lbs per week, but as Klassen’s business grows and matures, so will the quantity of this local Okanagan Char.
Fishmonger, Jon Crofts of Codfathers Seafood Market says that in a side by side comparison of Char from the Yukon and Char from Oliver, the local fish fares better for flavor and consistency, with the added benefit of less transport time, as fish is always sold within 3 days of harvest.
Char is moist pinkish/white fish with a delicate texture and a high oil and fat content that makes it very popular with chefs and restaurant guests. You can find Klassen’s Char at Krafty Kitchen, Liquidity Bistro, Miradoro at Tinhorn Creek Winery, Penticton Lakeside Resort, Poppadoms, RauDZ Regional Table, The Kitchen at Misconduct Wine Co., The Terrace at Mission Hill Winery, and the Vanilla Pod Restaurant. Local chefs are excited to not only feature a local product on their menu, but a sustainable product that has been produced without impacting the environment.
Home cooks and seafood fans can also enjoy this locally produced char by visiting Codfathers Seafood Market at 2355 Gordon Drive, Kelowna.
The Arctic Char begins in hatching trays
... and grows up in tanks for 1.5 years until its harvest
Here 400 mature Char are ready to harvest