Spaniards to their part in the conservation of tuna

Bluefin tuna (BFT) has experienced the damaging effects of heavy demand in seafood dishes. The Mediterranean Sea has been a major point of residence for these creatures. Fishing is a very profitable business in surrounding countries of the sea. In the early 90’s the country of Spain saw itself heavily involved in the fishing of BFT and the practice of “fattening”. This is a simple process which involves capturing the fish for six months, fattening them up and then shipping them to Japan for consumption.

Since the year 2000 the International Council for Conservation of the Atlantic Tuna (ICCAT) and the Spanish Institute of Oceanography (IEO) has involved themselves in research aiming to domesticate the BFT. As we have seen in previous articles, http://ecomerge.blogspot.com/2010/01/efforts-to-save-bluefin-tuna-face.html, the domestication of such species comes with nothing but hardship. Nonetheless the Spanish seem committed to this cause. Since 2000 they have outlined a schedule for their program and goals:

2000-2001 improve the technique of slaughtering of the BFT, finding a less brutal way of slaughtering the tuna…


2001-2002 Initiate the domestication of BFT, international symposium aimed towards domestication and study of the BFT.


2002-2004 development of automated quality control of BFT meat. “The main target of this project consisted of developing an automated system of visual inspection that allows the determination of the meat quality of the BFT. The ultimate aim was to establish quality indicators and classifiers accompanying tuna meat from the capture and that way making it possible to track this product in
the main tuna meat export markets.”

2003-2006 Domestication of BFT, feasibility study on its reproduction in captivity. Funded with 1.5 M Euros. The project was able to demonstrate the BFT was able to mature and spawn in captivity successfully.


2006-2007 more advances in domestication of BFT, focused on the juvenile of the species and how to better handle them.


2008-2010 Proposal to implement already acquired knowledge to perform self-sustained aquaculture. Funded with 3 million Euros.



To learn more on the Spanish institute of oceanography go to:


http://www.ieo.es/inicial.htm (spanish)

http://www.ieo.es/version_eng/indexingles.htm (english)



to learn about ICCAT:


http://www.iccat.int/en/


-Gonzalo Romero

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