A European science and government consortium has succeeded in obtaining viable mass eggs from captive bluefin tuna, signaling “an important step forward” in research on this highly prized fish.
Scientists involved in the EU-funded project Selfdott say their findings show the tuna’s ability to adapt after more than three years of domestication. A total of 10 million eggs were produced in a single day, said the Selfdott team recently.
Faced with dwindling bluefin tuna stocks in the Atlantic and Mediterranean, researchers across the globe are tackling the challenge of reproducing this fish in captivity. Crucially, results from this European EUR 2.98 million project could ultimately relieve pressure on wild stocks through the commercialization of a farmed bluefin tuna.
Obtaining naturally spawned eggs from captive fish “is an important step forward in research on Atlantic bluefin tuna aquaculture, bringing commercial breeding of this species closer,” said the Selfdott team.
Last year, the scientists obtained 140 million eggs from captive bluefin to study the factors influencing the larvae’s survival in the first month of life. At the time, Fernando de la Gándara, coordinator of Selfdott, told SeafoodSource: “We have opened the door to the domestication of tuna.” According to de la Gándara, the project is driven by three objectives: to control the spawning of bluefin tuna in captivity; to raise the larvae and produce juveniles; and, finally, to identify the right environmentally friendly food for the juveniles.
In August, the Selfdott team, coordinated by the Spanish Institute of Oceanography (IEO), confirmed it will now study the embryonic and larval development of these eggs and seek to improve the survival and growth of the juveniles. In addition to developing sustainable feeds for bluefin tuna juveniles, the project aims to produce a protocol for commercial-scale larval rearing.
Thirteen government bodies, research institutes and industry organizations from France, Germany, Greece, Israel, Italy, Malta, Norway and Spain are collaborating in the Selfdott research.