THE world’s first fully cultivated bluefin tuna raised from eggs will shortly be shipped to market – but is this the saviour of the sportfish industry, or just false economy?

The success story raises hopes that pressure on wild bluefin tuna stocks could be alleviated – giving hope to anglers in many parts of the world that the prized fish could still be available to be caught on rod and line.

Researchers at the Kinki University in Osaka, Japan, have succeeded in farming Pacific northern bluefin tuna from eggs, unlike existing farmed tuna that are reared from larvae caught in the wild.

The researchers plan to ship three 1m long bluefin tuna, each weighing about 20 kg, and said that while the fish are relatively small, when compared with their wild counterparts, they are rich in fat, which is prized as a delicacy.

The laboratory began fish-farming research in 1970 and succeeded in getting tuna to lay eggs in an artificial environment, for the first time in history, in 1979. But for about a decade after 1983, the laboratory made little progress after tuna stopped laying eggs inside fish-farming nets.

Supplies of bluefin tuna in the Mediterranean have been all but wiped out, and the eating of farmed tuna could allow these stocks to regenerate.

However, reports state that, while it takes three tons of wild fish to produce one ton of salmon and five tons to produce one ton of cod, it takes a massive 20 tons of fish to produce one ton of tuna. So the new technology might preserve bluefin for a few more years, but what is going to happen to the rest of the world’s fish stocks?


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