When it comes to bluefin tuna, companies are having big trouble reproducing the successes achieved with farm-raised salmon and tilapia (@healthhappensRD refer to following article http://t.co/b7GuVaLI68)...
|Scooped by Marian Locksley|
You might think that aquaculture is the answer. Farm-raised salmon is common in the U.S. A decade ago, few Americans ate tilapia, but now the white fish is a favorite of the food industry, thanks to farms in China and other countries. Bluefin are much bigger than those other fish; as a result, they are much harder to breed on farms. Most bluefin are either caught in the wild (in the Atlantic, Pacific, and Southern oceans) or captured as small fish and raised on fish ranches.
However, catching bluefin tuna when they’re young and then raising them on giant fish farms just makes the problem worse, according to Seafood Watch, the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s program focusing on ocean sustainability. “All populations of bluefin tuna are being caughtfaster than they can reproduce,” the California aquarium says on its website. “Bluefin is being further depleted by ranching operations that collect small bluefin and raise them to full size to sell primarily to the sushi market.”
Seafood Watch has “Avoid” recommendations for both wild-caught and ranch-raised bluefin, and the Monterey organization isn’t the only group critical of the bluefin industry. The Environmental Defense Fund has an “Eco-Worst Choice” grade for all types of bluefin tuna. The EDF also warns about the health dangers of elevated levels of mercury and PCBs in the fish. “Adults and kids should not eat at all,” the organization warns.
For years, people in the fish industry have been pursuing the elusive goal of breeding bluefin completely on farms, from eggs all the way to mature fish. Clean Seas Tuna, an Australian aquaculture company, has been one of the leaders in efforts to breed tuna; Time included the company’s breeding tank in the magazine’s “50 Best Inventions of 2009.”
However, Clean Seas announced right before Christmas that it was suspending its breeding program for southern bluefin tuna (SBT). “The volume and quantity of fertilised eggs produced to date has been disappointing compared to other seasons,” the company said in a statementto the Australian stock exchange. “Whilst the Company continues to believe in the commercialisation potential of the successful closure of the SBT lifecycle, investment beyond the Company’s current financial resources will be required for this goal to be achieved.” Clean Seas stock traded at 2 Australian dollars in 2008 and now trades at 2 Australian cents.
Clean Seas isn’t the only bluefin-focused company facing some hard times. Oli Steindorsson, the chairman and chief executive officer of San Diego-based Umami Sustainable Seafood, resigned from all his positions at the company, “effective immediately,” Umami announced on Dec. 10. The new chairman, James White, serves on the boards of several resource companies, including PC Gold and Auriga Gold. Umami “believes that Mr. White is qualified to serve as chairman of the Board due to his financial background and experience in the debt and equity markets,” the company said.
I interviewed Steindorsson in 2011 and he warned then about the need for patience. Given the challenges in trying to breed a fish that can easily weigh over 300 lbs., he said, Unami’s program would need five to seven further years before there would be results. “This is not an Intelchip, these are biological creatures,” he said. “No matter how fast we want to do this, we always have to respect the laws of nature.”