Why Arctic Char?
The season for Wild Arctic Char is very short, but the fish is pure!
What is the difference between Arctic Char and Salmon?
Arctic Char has a rich, flavourful taste and has a pink-flesh colour that is related to trout and salmon with skin that is thin, delicate and edible. Arctic Char tastes like a cross between salmon and trout (closer to trout). The fat content is close to that of sockeye salmon and provides omega-3 fatty acids and carotenoids. Unlike Salmon, Arctic Char doesn’t die after spawning and can live for up to 25 years and grow up to 25 pounds.
Why Arctic Char?
Arctic Char is considered to be one of the purest fish available in the market.
Arctic Char migrate annually in the Nunavut Territory of Canada and this is the start of the commercial Char season. For the 10th consecutive year, the Inuit fishers of Cambridge Bay and Macgregors Meat & Seafood Ltd. provide us with fresh wild Nunavut Char.
Nunavut reaches 1024 miles north of the Arctic Circle, stretching almost to the top of the world. It extends from Baffin Island in the east to the Yukon in the west. It is home to the only commercial fishery for Wild Arctic Char in North America. Three degrees north of the Arctic Circle, above Hudson Bay is a place the native Inuits call Ikaluktutiak, “place of good fishing.” We know it as Cambridge Bay.
This far north, summer is brief. And so the season for Wild Arctic Char is also brief. The Arctic Char have spent the winter under the ice in this harsh region’s lakes and rivers. In mid-July when the ice starts melting, the Char begin an outward migration, Fishing during the outward migration lasts one-and-a-half to two weeks as the fish move to the brackish water of the river estuaries. From there, they enter the Northwest Passage and remain inshore, along the coast where they feed for five to eight weeks. For about a month, there is no further fishing.
By mid to late August, the temperature begins to drop.. This signals the start of the upstream migration. The Char return to their freshwater habitat of lakes and rivers, to overwinter under the ice, avoiding the colder winter temperatures of the sea. Fishing resumes for about one month. The season is over by mid-September..
Various native peoples have lived around Cambridge Bay for 4,000 years. Archaeological discoveries show that fishing for Arctic Char around Cambridge Bay dates back at least 1600 years. The Inuits have always fished for Arctic Char. Commercial fishing in greater Nunavat started in the 1940s. The Cambridge Bay commercial fishery for Nunavut Char began only 56 years ago, in 1960. The ideas and practices of sustainability and stewardship are a way of life for the Inuit fishers. The fishery has also been recognized by the Vancouver Aquarium’s Ocean Wise program.
In Cambridge Bay, most of the year is frigid waters, ice and snow against a cold gray sky. From this extreme environment comes Wild Nunavut Char, a fish of amazing delicacy and depth, with flesh as vibrant as the landscape is bare. Cold waters make for a fish with a high fat content, and the intensely cold arctic water guarantees an incomparable richness.