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PHILLIPINES - Breeding tuna in PHL: Is it doable?

After successfully breeding bangus (milkfish) and tilapia, and at some extent, grouper or more commonly known as lapu-lapu, the Philippines Department of Agriculture officials are now floating the idea of breeding tuna.

Jonah van Beijnen, co-founder of Fins and Leaves, who endeavored to develop and successfully market one of the Philippines’s first grouper hatcheries 10 years ago believes that sustainable production and consumption of seafood is the key to ensuring a better world for all people.

With many islands and surrounding calm and productive waters, the Philippines, which sits at the center of the natural spawning grounds of wild yellowfin tuna, is ideal for breeding tuna. “Juvenile tuna love these warm and calm waters teeming with food. This might just give the Philippines a big advantage in the future closed-cycle culture of yellowfin tuna,” Beijnen told BusinessMirror.

Hatchery projects
According to Beijnen, hatchery projects for Atlantic bluefin tuna are already operating in Spain, Malta, Greece, Croatia, Egypt and Turkey.

“Since 2014 many of these projects have successfully produced small quantities of fingerlings and some harvestable fish. The first tuna products from these efforts are already available in the Netherlands,” he said.

Beijnen added that, in Japan, scientists have been working hard to close the lifecycle of its closely related Pacific bluefin tuna, a species that is also found in the Philippines, especially around the recently protected Philippine Rise, east of Luzon.

“After many years of trial and error, approximately 20 hatchery facilities are now producing Pacific bluefin tuna with an average survival rate estimated from 3 percent to 5 percent,” he said. 

In 2016 the hatcheries produced a total number of 500,000 fingerlings.

The sales from grow-out operations using hatchery-produced Pacific bluefin tuna have lifted off as well, with 900 metric tons of sales in 2016 and over 1000 metric tons of sales in 2017—thereby proving beyond doubt that the closed-cycle aquaculture of bluefin tuna is viable, profitable and an excellent alternative to wild-capture fisheries.

In the meantime, two projects in Panama (South America) and Bali (Indonesia) have been focusing on yellowfin tuna. Both projects have been able to produce plenty of eggs in captivity and some fingerlings.

“Although there are still plenty of challenges in improving the survival of tuna larvae and fingerlings, improving the sustainability of feeds and minimizing the environmental impacts of farming activities, the potential of the sector is clear,” he said.

Read more [Source: BusinessMirror]   Photo: CSIRO