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Tuna: A Sustainable New Industry


Terry Bradley: They are one of the top predators in the ocean. They swim at phenomenal speeds, they travel long distances, they’re very efficient predators. They’ve been around for tens of thousands of years. It’s really just an incredible fish. Tuna Ranching is practice primarily in Australia, the Mediterranean and Mexico. They go out and capture small tuna, juvenile tuna, then put them into net pens, and raise them in net pens until they reach 60-80 pounds, and then harvest those. Now all they’re doing is taking the wild fish and fattening them up, so it’s still depleting the populations. What we’re trying to do is, is to eliminate that wild phase completely. We want to go out and capture wild broodstock, move those broodstock in here, get them to spawn and then use their progeny to grow onward. Peter Mottur: The idea behind Tuna Aquaculture is to develop a sustainable product, something that doesn’t put pressure on the wild fishery, but at the same time it’s something that is environmentally friendly, it’s sustainable and ultimately creates a product for the marketplace to deal with the enormous amount of demand for tuna globally. The problem that we’ve seen is that there really isn’t any organization in this country, that’s focused on tuna aquaculture. Bradley: It’s got the potential of developing an industry here in the state. That would again develop the technology for doing this, potentially producing fish here somewhere in Rhode Island. With that goes employment of technicians to working in the facilities and to work with the fish, graduate students, undergraduates, so it’s really a great job opportunity for the students also. But the potential to really expand, once we get the techniques developed is pretty significant. Mottur: One of the challenges in catching the fish is, tuna needs to swim in order to breathe. So when we collect the fish on a boat, we need to keep them constantly swimming or else they won’t survive. So we’ve experimented with a number of different types of systems in order to hold the fish and allow them to swim. The method that we found to be most effective is actually using inboard tanks on vessels. Much like we did with the research expedition we did with Ocearch, where it’s a former Alaskan King Craber that has these giant tanks in deck on the vessel, allows us to put those fish in there and they have enough room to be able to swim around. Bradley: And probably our most successful trip was on the Ocearch research vessel. We were able to capture 8 large yellow fin that were up to 80 lbs each. And then put those in those holds and bring them back here. Our next phase then is to hold these fish, get them acculmated to our conditions, and get them to spawn. We’re moving along at a reasonable pace, but we’ve been hindered simply by the amount of space that we have. So we hope that once we get sufficient space, we can get these fish spawning and get juveniles within you know next year or so. And then really start developing those techniques. Mottur: What we’ve developed with the university is a public-private partnership, where private industry, my company, has been able to team with the university and leverage the intellectual capital that they have here. We’re trying to take this from the research phase and ultimately into the commercialization phase. But the university has been a fantastic research partner and will help us take this to the next level, that ultimately will have an economic impact on the region.

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Comments
  • This is BS greenwashing – and the greedy principal Peter Mottur already made a fortune designing surveillance software for Homeland Security and the DOD.

    SHAME.

    google decline of the empire tuna in a tank and read about these phonies.

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