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World's First: Spawning of Captive Bluefin Tuna

SUNSHINE COAST, AUSTRALIA - University of the Sunshine Coast scientists have helped create aquaculture history through their involvement in a project that has achieved the world-first spawning of captive southern bluefin tuna.

The spawning at the Clean Seas Tuna facility in Arno Bay, near Port Lincoln in South Australia, has resulted in the production of tens of millions of tuna eggs.

This achievement in a temperate area, thousands of kilometres from the giant fish’s tropical breeding grounds off Indonesia, is a key step towards commercialisation and a revolution of the tuna industry.

USC Associate Professor in Aquaculture Genetics Wayne Knibb said there were so many larvae that if only a small percentage survived, the number of captive tuna would still exceed all those in the entire history of Australian aquaculture.

“Commercially, the path is open to revolutionise the tuna industry and see captive Aussie tuna aquaculture grow to a multibillion dollar sector,” he said.

USC’s Professor in Aquaculture Biotechnology Abigail Elizur said she and her colleagues were especially proud of the spawning breakthrough after having been associated with the project for many years.

“This is a triumph of planning and persistence with great Australian entrepreneurs who believed in the role science can have in achieving such a breakthrough,” she said.

Professor Elizur’s ground-breaking work on this project helped her earn USC’s Vice-Chancellor’s Medal for Outstanding University Researcher for 2009, presented at last Friday’s Graduation ceremony.

The USC scientists have worked as part of a collaborative team, brought together by Clean Seas Tuna Chairman Hagen Stehr AO, that included researchers from Australia as well as the Center of Marine Biotechnology at the University of Maryland, and from the European Tuna Consortium.

Professor Yonathan Zohar, the Director of the Center of Marine Biotechnology at the University of Maryland, whose technology contributed to the spawning success, said: “This accomplishment shows how scientists and industry can partner across continents to ensure supplies of bluefin tuna while preserving its stocks in the wild”.

The project was supported by the Australian Seafood Cooperative Research Centre.

the Fish Site Editor

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