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
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