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Aquaculture: Keeping Tuna on the Menu

The Fish Site
by The Fish Site
26 January 2009, at 12:00am

JAPAN - In December 2007, the Fisheries Laboratory fish farm of Kinki University in Wakayama Prefecture became the first facility in the world to "close the cycle" by breeding Pacific bluefin tuna (hon-maguro) from completely cultured sources.

That is, a third generation of fish was bred from two generations of tuna that had never lived in the wild - the first generation having provided the eggs for the second while captive in the net cages, where they had hatched from eggs harvested in the wild, writes Hillel Wright for Japan Times.

Meanwhile, Hagen Stehr, chairman of the Australian mariculture company Clean Seas Tuna, claims that Clean Seas is "85 per cent there" in its quest to close the cycle for Southern bluefin tuna (minami-maguro). And although leading American tuna companies predict that by 2018 all commercial bluefin will be produced on fish farms, Stehr believes this will happen by 2010 or 2011, says the Japan Times report.

However, Peter Makoto Miyake, a consultant with the Japan-Tuna Fisheries Co-operative, disputes these predictions in crucial respects.

"What the farms are producing at the moment is not bluefin tuna as we know it," he told the news organisation. "It's a different animal...the taste is different and so is the appearance."

Miyake instead advocates the strict enforcement of quotas for capture fisheries and the introduction of a worldwide buy-back program for fishing boats. He argues this would compensate fishermen for leaving the industry and reduce the size of the global tuna fleet — an approach that has been successful in significantly cutting the number of large long-liners worldwide.

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