Are captive tuna farms a viable alternative to overfishing?

The Kindai tuna, bred by scientists at Kinki University, may lead the way for future large-scale tuna farms. Tom Edathikunnel investigates whether the idea really is preferable to overfishing.

Japanese scientists at Kinki University - based in Osaka, Japan - have unveiled a brand new tuna species, entitled the Kindai Tuna. After three generations of breeding this species is almost identical to its wild cousins, in terms of texture and nutrition, but is the first to be completely nurtured and grown in captivity. However, the process is still expensive and rather inefficient. And the new Kindai tuna sells more, per pound, than wild Bluefin.


In 1982, Japan led the global fishing market with an annual catch of over 11.8 million short tons. The United States followed with an annual catch of 4.3 million. Over the last thirty years these numbers have skyrocketed reaching annual rates of 2 billion tons in Japan and 800 million in the United States. What some may view as advancement and efficiency in the fishing industry, others will deem the result of gluttony and blind consumption. What is undeniable is the adverse environmental impact.

The biggest (and most alarming) impact can be seen in large predatory fish such as the Bluefin Tuna. Although the Pacific Bluefin is not recognised as an endangered species, its dwindling numbers are indicative of a teetering ecological imbalance.

Tuna are carnivorous fish and are one of the top predators in the world’s ocean. They are also one of the most prized catches averaging over $1,000 per pound. Tuna are unique, in that they are endothermic, or warm blooded. They also have a unique metabolism that allows them to continuously and rapidly grow throughout their entire lives. On average an adult tuna may measure up to around 1.8 meters long (6 feet) but can grow upwards to 2.7 meters (9 feet) and weigh over 400 kg (881 lbs.). These massive fish are also incredibly fast swimmers, reaching speeds of up to 40 km/h (25 mph).

Article continues at ENN affiliate, Ecologist

Tuna image via Shutterstock