Researchers launch farmed bluefin project

Heralding the launch of TRANSDOTT (Translation of Domestication of Thunnus Thynnus into an Innovative Commercial Application), a team of European researchers are on the verge of boosting innovative, commercially sustainable Atlantic bluefin tuna aquaculture.

Funded under the European Commission Seventh Framework Research and Innovation Programme FP7 with contracts signed on 3 July, TRANSDOTT is the natural progression from three previously EU-funded projects: DOTT (Domestication of Thunnus Thynnus), REPRODOTT (Reproduction of Bluefin Tuna in Captivity) and SELFDOTT (Self-sustained Aquaculture and Domestication of Bluefin Tuna).

Coordinated by professor Chris Bridges from Heinrich-Heine University Düsseldorf in Germany, the international project involves five commercial partners from Futuna Blue SL (Spain), Malta Fish Farming Ltd (Malta), ARDAG Red Sea Mariculture Ltd (Israel), Panittica Pugliese Società Agricola SPA (Italy) and Skretting Aquaculture Research Center (Norway). The teams have joined forces with the National Center of Mariculture in Eilat (Israel) and Malta Aquaculture Research Center.

Bridges told SeafoodSource that TRANSDOTT is based on a two-year time frame with a budget of more than EUR 1 million (USD 1.2 million).

Using eggs from broodstock and production cage sources in Malta and Spain, together with broodstocks in Croatia through a recently signed memorandum of understanding with Kali Tuna farm in Umami, eggs will be transported to the five different research hatcheries.

For the first time a full commercial application of copepod diets will be assessed (tiny crustaceans found in fresh or saltwater lakes and seas) in Futuna Blue’s new facility at El Puerto de Santa María in Cádiz, southern Spain. The company performed Europe’s first successful bluefin tuna larval test in July 2011, and dry diets for weaning and grow-out produced by Skretting ARC will be used.

“Sustainable aquaculture of Atlantic bluefin tuna is at the threshold of becoming as successful as the Japanese industry for Pacific bluefin tuna developed by Kinki University,” said Bridges. “The present season has just begun and all hatcheries have received eggs from various sources, although more technical developments are being tried and tested in the present phase.”

Heinrich-Heine University Düsseldorf is highly active in the founding of spin-off companies such as the planned “Tuna Technologies” developed during REPRODOTT and SELFDOTT, and provides research programs in life sciences, natural sciences, social sciences, law and economics.?? 

In related news, Spain’s Secretary General of Fisheries, Carlos Domínguez, expressed his “pleasant surprise” at advances in scientific research for the captive breeding of the species. Visiting Murcia company Caladeros del Mediterráneo, part of the Ricardo Fuentes group, last week, Domínguez congratulated the company and regional ministry “for the good management of the bluefin tuna season this year, which will undoubtedly increase the quota of this species for years to come.”


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