BY ALEC DAVITT
With Atlantic Bluefin Tuna stocks headed towards collapse and conservation efforts having troubles getting started; farming the fish may be one of the last chances for recovery. Farming the fish is a difficult process and involves netting the enormous fish into very large pens. This technique has worked in the past by allowing fisherman to catch small fish and raising them to a more desirable size, but until now has failed to allow the fish to breed. Recently a group of German scientists have discovered that because the fish is used to traveling great distances and a cage, even a large one, fails to produce this kind of natural environment required for breeding.
Their solution is to spear the fish with a hormone known as gonadotroptin, which has resulted in successful breeding programs. This new discovery raises the question can farm-raised tuna satisfy the worlds demand for the fish? Perhaps more importantly can these farm-raised fish be released into the wild and help fix collapsed stocks? Scientist and Environmentalists have their doubts. The biggest problem is the high amount of antibiotics used to keep cages free of disease. Most of these antibiotics pass through the fish and are secreted into waters nearby the pens and are then consumed by offer species, often with negative health effects. The second issue is the large amount of food needed to raise farmed fish on a commercial level. The fish food is usually taken from the surrounding ecosystem, robbing it of resources intended for wild populations. Still even with these negatives affects farm-raised tuna, along with proper conservation, may be one of the last hopes for the species.
Sources 1: http://www.mnn.com/earth-matters/wilderness-resources/stories/farm-raised-bluefin-tuna-spawn-controversy
Source 2: http://www.grinningplanet.com/2004/02-26/farmed-salmon-pollution-gmo-eco.htm