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Bluefin tuna breeding milestone in South Australia

Clean Seas Tuna Company has announced that it has been successful in producing aquaculture-bred Southern Bluefin Tuna (SBT), from its offshore Arno Bay facility on South Australia’s Eyre Peninsula.

The company has said that this, the latest stage in their lifecycle research and development programme, was achieved with the transferring of the first batch of juvenile long SBT – known in the industry as fingerlings – from onshore nursery tanks to the at-sea cages, for controlled grow-out trials. 

The 90 fingerlings, which are generally between 8 and 10cm long and weigh up to 15 grams, have been weaned on to a manufactured diet and transferred to a 25 meter offshore holding pen. A test sample of a similar number of fish has been kept in the nursery tanks, while progress of both groups is tracked.

These recent steps achieved by Clean Seas Tuna is part of a long term, international project to propagated production of Southern Bluefin Tuna.

“This is the world’s first transfer of Southern Bluefin Tuna fingerlings to the ocean,” said Mr Clifford Ashby, Managing Director of Clean Seas Tuna.

“It is another significant step forward for us. It is not only a critical stage for Clean Seas Tuna, but also places Australia at the forefront of technological initiatives being undertaken in global marine aquaculture,” he said.

“The pioneering nature of the breeding programme means that every stage produces a challenge for our skilled production, research and development and grow-out teams and we are closely monitoring these fingerlings with great anticipation.

“It is a credit to our staff and research partners that this significant step forward has been taken in the company’s quest to commercialise production of propagated Southern Bluefin Tuna. It is also a credit to the passion, perseverance and determination of our visionary founder, Hagen Stehr.”

Numbers of SBT have been dwindling since the onset of industrial fishing in the 1950s, with Australian catch peaking in 1981 with 21,500 tonnes. Today’s figures suggest the overall SBT population has declined by about 92%. The SBT has been classified as Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species and because of this, discovering sustainable methods of tuna farming is of vital importance.
 

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Image courtesy of www.australiangeographic.com.au

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