Tuna Fish Farming

Tuna is popular among health conscious people and among big-game fishing fans. The culture of species of this fish for commercial use is yet to be developed in North American waters. Would you like to know the basics of a popular method to farm this fish? Read about the penning method from our guide.

Tuna is a marine fish and is a popular as food as well as a big-game fish. As food, canned tuna was a commercial success since its introduction to the market a century ago.

Its high protein and omega-3 fatty acid content makes it popular among health buffs. However, they can also accumulate mercury in their flesh, which can be dangerous when consumed.

Tuna species, of which there are close to 50, are fast swimmers. They have an unusual pink to dark red flesh. Bluefin tuna is a large tuna species, and is among the most popular species of tuna. They can tolerate cool waters and adapt well to most conditions in the ocean. Of the close to 50 species of tuna there are, 23 have commercial significance. Because of their popularity as a commercial fish, commercial tuna species, particularly the bluefin and bigeye, have been overfished in some areas and some are endangered.

The subject of much research regarding tuna production concerns tuna breeding. It is because tuna, particularly the Atlantic bluefin tuna, can take up to more than 10 years to mature sexually and they can be difficult to breed in captivity. The reason is, outside their natural habitat, they get confused as to when to activate their reproductive system.

Tuna Farming in North America

Commercial tuna species are found in Asia (particularly in Japan, one of the top tuna fishing nations) and in Europe in Spain and France. There is yet no tuna farm in U.S. waters (as of late last year). The closest site of tuna production in North America is in Mexican waters. The bluefin tuna reared in these waters is the northern bluefin tuna (there is a southern bluefin tuna). Sites with potential for tuna farming are in the west coast. The southern California water, in particular, is home to valuable tuna species.

Tuna Aquaculture – The Penning Method

A method of tuna aquaculture is called penning. This process involves:

  • Catching young tuna from the sea using purse seine netting
  • Transferring the tuna in a special sea cage
  • Towing the cage with the tuna inside it to growout sites
  • In the growout site, the tuna are fattened in pens and fed bait fish for two to three years until they reach harvesting size, which is at least 35 kgs.
  • Mature tuna are harvested by net-crowding
  • The fish are then graded before being packed and shipped

21 Comments

  • benhard tibing said on May 26, 2010
    Jakarta. Indonesia. If the tuna population decreased year by year and harvest by countries having no responsibility, then next generation will have only an empty sea. Most of the potential fishing grounds lies in the surrounding seas of developing countries. Indonesia with more that 13000 islands is a heaven for fish to spawn, and tuna spawning ground lies south-east of the island of Java. It's high time for US firms involved in the fishing industry to establish business venture in Indonesia in developing large scale tuna farms to feed US market rather than buying tuna fillet from a third country with high price per pound. To many studies about tuna aquaculture is a waste of time. Tuna aquaculture already in progress in Australia. So just follow the leader. Let's hope that we all can chip in to prevent the disaster of all tuna.
  • Tadios Mudumo said on June 24, 2010
    What do i need to start a commercial fish production in Lake Kariba. Chalala, Kariba, Zimbabwe
  • dharmendra said on June 8, 2011
    i want to start fish farming,so reply me how to start it? & what the future of this business.
  • Elias said on July 7, 2011
    Mexico, South Baja California. I have the money and I have the time, I want to make a tuna fish farm, the thing is I dont know how to start, I need an adviser or a consultant, also to take a course and training. Thanks
  • Abdul said on August 18, 2011
    Aden, Yemen, I am from America and was watching a show on Planet Green about Tuna fishing. I like the idea of this business, but where do you get the money for the feed? How much does it cost to farm your fish based on size of catch? Who do you talk to to use the sea for farming? Can I get some information on this?
  • Graham said on October 31, 2011
    Africa,Namibia,Swakopmund,on the west coast , we have a annual tuna export of 4000 ton , no tuna farms on african coastline. plenty of lagoon territory that is protected by ministry of fisheries.
  • Jrtemiah nathan delgado said on May 10, 2012
    Anahiem california sothwestern california ,just minutes from all pacific coast interstate #1 highway. I live adjacent to diseney land and knottsberry farm, also also any and all southern california coastal estuaries.
  • liz whall said on September 26, 2012
    CT, USA. what do you feed the farmed tuna? Is there any feed available for purchase? What do they feed the small fry?
  • yong said on February 11, 2013
    this is young from los angels. california, u.s.a. we can not get all the time for catching some fishes. there is season for catching for bluefin tuna. also, small blufin tuna is not taste. that is reason why there are some bluefin tuna farm in near by ensenada. best thing is copy for ensenada tuna farm.
  • Eva Wang said on June 5, 2013
    Hello, this is Eva from Qingdao Sikeli Ocean Technology Co., Ltd. We are professional supplier of net cage products. If you are interested, please contact us at eva.wang@sikeli.com
  • Albert Charles said on November 16, 2013
    want to start an offshore tuna fish farm St.Croix, united states virgin island need all information that would be helpful, what would be the best avenue for financial assistance
  • Nico Vanderey said on December 14, 2013
    I would like to start Tuna farm near New Zealand
  • ravi rathi said on February 22, 2014
    please advice if tuna farming can be done in India or Mauritius and what will be the cost of it and from where to get technical help thank you
  • Samuel boni said on March 1, 2014
    I need an A,B,C course for tuna farming in the lagoon in Ivorycoast. thanks, samuel
  • Chris Ferguson said on May 29, 2014
    I am interested in setting up a tuna breading farm in the Cook Islands, can you give some advise re. setting up, thank you.
  • Chris Ferguson said on May 29, 2014
    Rarotonga Cook Islands where I intend to set up a tuna breeding farm, can you give advise. chris ferguson977@gmail.com
  • Wilfred Kapoa said on October 19, 2014
    Kia Ora bro...I'm in New Zealand and I would like to know how much it will cost me to set up a Tuna breeding Program Facility in the north Island region.
  • Renatus Kyakalaba said on August 5, 2015
    We are planning to start a fish farming business alongside Tanzanian coastline in East Africa. We are considering species such as tuna, tilapia, African catfish, prawns etc producing about 40,000 tons per annum. Please if possible advise how much can this project cost. Thanks
  • Hsn LKS said on August 14, 2015
    Hey, If i want to make a farm for those fish, i live in lebanon i want to know what is the water that they can live in (salted water, carbonated water, simple water...) and how much it must be the bay that i want to put the fish in and what is the aliments that they eat and how much it probably cost me to buy the food for them and the little fish ? Thank you :)
  • Young said on December 22, 2016
    I would like to set up Tuna farming near Ensenada and US border. If somebody can able to quote for net system , kindly email to me. Thanks.
  • labbassi mohamed said on June 22, 2017
    hello, we are fish exporter company from morocco, we are looking for fish farmer who needs frozen sardines and small mackerel for feeding fish, we can export about 220 MT tons a week. thanks for your feed back, have a nice day

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