Tuna farming, in its current form, is the capture, transfer, transport, storage, feeding, and growing of live tuna. Tuna farming operations are presently focused on northern bluefin tuna, which include Atlantic bluefin tuna (Thunnus thynnus) as well as Pacific bluefin tuna (Thunnus orientalis) and southern bluefin tuna (Thunnus maccoyi). Efforts to breed bluefin tuna in an artificial environment have been realized but attempts to raise bluefin hatchlings to full maturity have yet to become commercially viable. New projects are currently underway to farm yellowfin and bigeye tuna.
Tuna farming is the only known way to control the time, quantity, and quality of the fresh tuna supply. The containment of live tuna in tuna farms allows scientists to continue breeding programs to complete tuna species life cycles, which involve farming live tuna species from hatching to spawning.
Tuna farming provides breeding opportunities, species protection, industry efficiency, product safety, consumer health benefits, supply stability, scientific data, support industry employment, new technology, export revenues, quality enhancement and a means to significantly increase tuna species weight.
Fishing vessels using poling methods and purse-seine nets capture live tuna and transfer the fish into towable sea cages. In the case of purse-seine net vessels, divers are used to direct live tuna from the fishing net to the towable sea pens. Since the objective is to transfer live tuna, purse-seine nets are drawn only to match the towing cage circumference, 132 meters (see purse-seine fishing illustration and explanation). This procedure permits the successful release of live by-catch and excess tuna.
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