Sustainable Farming of Pacific Bluefin Tuna

Pacific Bluefin Tuna has been listed as overfished since 2013 but in 2017 NOAA Fisheries released that there was no longer a risk of extinction. Since then, measures have been taken to increase Pacific Bluefin Tuna stock by cracking down on illegal fishing practices and implementing more sustainable aquafarming practices.

Traditional Farming Practices

In the past, farming of Pacific Bluefin Tuna has relied on catching juvenile Tuna in the wild, raising them to maturity, and then selling the fish to markets. In light of overfishing and concerns of extinction, this practice has been deemed unsustainable, making it important to find alternative practices to meet the high demand of Pacific Bluefin Tuna.

Artificial Hatching Technology

To relieve pressure from the wild population, Kinki University’s fish lab in Japan began using artificial hatching technology as part of their full-cycle farming process. By raising artificially hatched eggs into adulthood, they are able to collect their eggs and create ensuing generations of Pacific Bluefin Tuna before they are harvested.

Is a Tuna Hatchery Coming to North America?

In April 2019, the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research granted $945,000 to Ichthus Unlimited to start a Pacific Bluefin Tuna hatchery in the San Diego Bay. Resembling the lab in Japan, they would hatch eggs and nurture them into juveniles before being transferred to a new location where they would grow into full maturity.

Although the hope for this hatchery would be to create a more sustainable way to meet the demand for Pacific Bluefin Tuna and protect the wild population as it recovers, there seems to be some reservations. Concerns expressed ranged from the spread of disease to the need for an alternative to traditional fishmeal.

If established, this would be the first Pacific Bluefin Tuna hatchery of its kind in North America and only the third worldwide.

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