More on the issue
Tuna is the most appreciated seafood item in the European Union with 3 kg consumed annually per capita. The market is fully based on unsustainable wild catch. Reproduction of tuna in aquaculture has not been achieved at commercial scale. Worldwide consumption of tuna species is about 7.5 million tons per year at a value of USD 40 billion. Consumption has more than doubled from 3.5 million tons in 1995. 43% of tuna stocks are overfished or close to extinction. The major consumption species are yellowfin and skipjack tuna. Generally, tuna is among the species with the highest ratio of meat for human consumption to body weight: 70%, comparing favourably to pork (50%), cattle (42%), or other fish species like bass and bream (42%). Tuna is a healthy, omega-3-rich natural food source, feeding billions of people around the world.
Atlantic Bluefin Tuna (ABT) is the highest quality tuna species. Today, more than 600,000 young ABT are fished in the Mediterranean Sea every year, using all available quota for ABT. This puts severe pressure on wild-stocks. Fish are then raised to 100 kg in local net-cage grow-out farms. They are shipped to Asia for consumption. In return, less-valuable tuna species like skipjack and albacore are fished worldwide, mainly in the Pacific, imported to the EU and consumed as tuna tins.
ABT is not available to EU consumers as European distributors do not list it due to lack of sustainability.
ABT is the most highly appreciated and most expensive species with average prices of up to 30 EUR per kg at farm gate.
ABT is not available to consumers in the EU and in the US, as retail chains do not list non-sustainable seafood. We can re-open significant seafood markets for ABT by providing a truly sustainable source. In other words: we aim to be the ABT farm in the EU’s farm to fork strategy.
How we reproduce ABT
Unlike for other species such as salmon, reproduction of tuna has not been achieved at commercial scale to date. In simple terms, tuna is more difficult to breed than other species: it is growing very fast, is not easy to feed adequately at larvae stage and is fast swimmer.
The solution we offer is to apply innovation and build the first commercial RAS aquaculture facility to reproduce ABT in captivity and to keep them in our production facility up to a weight of 10 kg. This clearly separates us from previous, unsuccessful attempts to reproduce tuna in captivity. These were either open-water attempts or released fish into the marine environment at a too early stage and did not achieve survival rates necessary for commercial operation. Next Tuna will provide the first sustainably farmed source of 2 - 10 kg tuna juveniles and make healthy, protein rich ABT available for European and global consumers.
Our cooperation partner Spanish Institute of Oceanography (IEO) is operating a prototype of a land-based RAS for tuna and has closed the reproductive cycle of ABT in captivity.
Based on this existing prototype, operating in the same environment as Next Tuna planned production system, we will innovate the existing prototype in five essential fields :
1. Scale the available reproduction and rearing protocols
2. Implement a scientifically based breeding program
3. Transfer state of the art RAS technology from salmon industry to ABT
4. Develop a floating RAS system for easy delivery of ABT juveniles
5. Develop the protocol for infertile fingerling production
To actually reproduce ABT, we will have to build a large aquaculture farm. Our target is to start construction of our farm in 2023. Prior to start of construction, we have to fully prepare our project in terms of biological and technical planning. For that, we are working with various partners from science and industry: reproducing ABT is a big challenge. We are convinced that we can only successfully meet this challenge through co-operation with the best tuna breeding and aquaculture experts across the globe. At the same time, we have to secure all relevant land rights, permitting and, last but not least, secure the financing required for construction.
Our contribution to SDG
Next Tuna innovation can have a positive effect on all 17 Sustainable Development Goals defined by the United Nations (UN SDG) by creating a new, sustainable value chain. Tuna aquaculture must replacewild fishery.
Our activity and the expected impact on the UN SDG can be grouped in four activities, and valued depending on the type of activity, i.e. if the positive impact is caused by the Next Tuna core activity or if it is a positive side effect of Next Tuna activity. Activity groups and values are:
1. Impact through NT business purpose: 4 points
2. Impact through the activity of NT customers: 3 points
3. Impact through the means used by NT to achieve its business purpose: 3 points (2P)
4. Positive side effects of NT activity: 1 point
By applying this valuation method, we have the biggest impact on SDG 14 (Life Below Water) and SDG 12 (Responsible Consumption and Production) with more than 20 points. The main impact of Next Tuna on these two SDGs is the replacement of wild input into the tuna production process, reducing the pressure on wild tuna stocks. Another positive impact on these SDGs derives from the adaptation process of these juveniles to artificial, plant-based feeding, replacing bait fish feeding.
We will also have a substantial impact on SDG 8 (Decent Work and Economic Growth), SDG 13 (Climate Action) and SDG 2 (Zero Hunger) with more than 10 points. Next Tuna contributes to all other SDGs with less than 10 points.
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