Singing a New Tuna
Local sea-foodies weigh in on "sustainable" bluefin.
Thursday, March 12, 2009
Japanese and Australian researchers have pioneered a new farm-raised bluefin tuna that they say can satisfy sushi-lovers' consciences—along with their palates.
Wild stocks of bluefin have tanked due to overfishing fueled by high demand. A single fish (which can weigh half a ton) can fetch more than $100,000, according to a March 11 story in The Washington Post.
The new tuna, branded Kindai, are hatched from eggs and raised in ocean pens in Japan, reducing the pressure to troll for bluefin in the open sea. But the aquaculture operation requires more than 12 times the tunas' weight in wild fish feed and several dozen wild-caught relatives per year for genetic diversity. The waste from the fish farms also fouls the ocean, making some experts question the "sustainable" label.
Oddly, one of the restaurants where the farmed bluefin made its debut is named Monterey Bay Fish Grotto—even though it's in Virginia
Bona fide Monterey Bay experts also dish on the new fish: The Post article quotes Center for the Future of the Oceans Director Mike Sutton and Hopkins Marine Station tuna researcher Barbara Block, who both cautiously support the idea of farmed bluefin.
But Cindy Walter, owner of Pacific Grove restaurant Passionfish—renowned for serving sustainable seafood—warns that the new tuna could confuse diners who have gotten used to avoiding bluefin.