Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Endangered Tuna Could be Saved by Fish Farming

Southern bluefin tuna are one of the most valuable fish species, prized for their use in sushi and sashimi.

They also happen to be close to extinction, with population levels about 92% lower than they were when industrial fishing for the species began in the 1950s. A 2006 study said that catch levels of the fish are unsustainable, with a 50/50 chance that all the fish capable of laying eggs will be extinct within 12 years if levels continue at their current pace.

While the bluefin tuna exists elsewhere, the extinction of the southern variety could deal a blow to the ecology of the Pacific. That’s why a recent announcement by a seafood company was met with such enthusiasm.

Clean Seas Inc. announced that is successfully collected egg and sperm from captive bluefin tuna in South Australia. If baby fish can be created from this captured material, it could mean a revival in the species’ fortunes.

The discovery could mean year-round, farmed production of the fish. With farmed fish available, current fishing methods that radically lower the fish’s population levels could be obsolete. It could bring the fish back from the brink of extinction.

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