Ensuring food security

Kindai University in Osaka is renowned for its aquaculture production of the famed bluefin tuna and its practices are followed as an example worldwide



Many of us are aware that bluefin tuna is an important ingredient in Japanese cuisine. Mainly used for sushi and sashimi, the Japanese eat the majority of the bluefin tuna caught in the sea around Japan. The fatty fish has also made it to the tables and restaurants in the UAE as well as the rest of the Middle East. Considered a prized possession among Japanese locals, there has been much talk about farm production via aquaculture in the country because of surging consumption and overfishing.

Prof Dr Shukei Masuma, Director-General, Aquaculture Research Institute of Kindai University in Wakayama Prefecture tells us that with depleting wild stocks and increase in exports, the aquaculture sector is now eyeing farming bluefin tuna to address shortage of supply and conservation of the bluefin tuna resources. This is also in tandem with the UN's SDG goals to protect the species and its surrounding ecosystem.

Aquaculture

Aquaculture is the practice of farming seafood – fish, crustaceans and shellfish. Aquaculture businesses breed and harvest plants and animals in water – fresh water or sea water – and prepare them for human consumption.

Role of the university in the balance of supply and demand

Aquaculture Research Institute, Kindai University, has helped to increase the production of marine and freshwater resources through years of research in hatcheries and aquaculture technologies. From the development of fish farming technologies of commercially important fish to practical models of industry-supporting research and completely farm-raising bluefin tuna, the Aquaculture Research Institute aims at attaining the world's highest level of research and education.

The aquaculture research for the bluefin tuna began 1970. At that time, the university was focusing on three aspects - the cultivation of bluefin tuna, their maturity into adults to lay the eggs and how to put the artificially cultivated fish to use. In 2002, Kindai University made a breakthrough, producing the world’s first generation of full-life cycled Pacific bluefin using the fertilised eggs from artificially hatched, hatchery-raised parents. Technology at the institute plays a huge role in raising the tuna in the netted conditions.

In 2010, the tuna-farming industry faced criticism for its practices using wild-caught juveniles since wild young tuna stocks were decreasing, and thus caught people's attention. In 2012, when the Japanese government decided the limit for the catch quota of young tuna from the seas, the demand for young tuna for farming increased, which the university attempts to fulfil. Annually, Kindai University cultivates 3,000 adult bluefin tuna.

Achieving SDG goals

Aquaculture has experienced sustainable growth due to its environmentally-friendly practices that ensures responsible consumption and production. Prof Masuma also reiterates that this practice is aligned with the UN SDG goals because the fish is raised in farms and not caught in the wild. Because aquaculture is not a threat to non-target fish species, unlike standard fishing procedures, it preserves the marine ecosystem.


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