It is likely that completely farm-raised bluefin tuna will soon reach home dining room tables in Japan.
Two major fisheries are scheduled to ship out the bluefin tuna fish as soon as this month and have considered exporting the fish.
This is a last-resort measure to protect bluefin tuna, whose population has plunged due to overfishing.
Kyokuyo Co., one of the two companies, will begin selling bluefin tuna to restaurant chains in November and shops specializing in fresh fish in Japan. The bluefin tuna is completely farm-raised in waters southwest of the Shikoku region.
The company also aims to export bluefin tuna abroad. A Kyokuyo spokesperson said: “The flesh (of completely farm-raised tuna) is a deep, bright shade of red. The quality compares favorably with that of wild fish.”
Nippon Suisan Kaisha, the other company, aims to begin shipment of the tuna this winter.
The company has set a goal of shipping 500 tons in 2018 and 1,000 tons in 2019.
Japan’s domestic supply volume of bluefin tuna was about 46,000 tons in 2015. Most of the tuna was imported or farm-raised. About 8,000 tons of wild bluefin tuna was caught by domestic fishermen.
Maruha Nichiro Corp. already began shipments of completely farm-raised tuna in 2015. As Kyokuyo and Nippon Suisan follow suit, shipment of such bluefin tuna will become more common. Completely farm-raised tuna will likely become a fixture in the market.
Bluefin tuna is popular for use in high-grade sushi. Japan consumes about 80 percent of all bluefin tuna caught in the world.
The volume of bluefin tuna in the Pacific Ocean has fallen to about 10 percent of peak year volumes due to overfishing.
However, cost remains a hurdle for expansion of the cultivation technique as its takes about three years from hatching to shipment.
Only a few percent of hatched fish mature to the extent necessary for shipment. The development of technology that boosts survival rates, and other factors, will be keys to the industry’s success.