TOKYO -- Thanks to advancements in aquaculture technology, Maruha Nichiro is looking to start exporting bluefin tuna raised from eggs as soon as fiscal 2018.
The Japanese seafood company has been selling fully farmed bluefin tuna to Aeon and other major domestic retailers since fiscal 2015. It now aims to boost sales to restaurant chains in Japan and cultivate export markets.
With Japanese food gaining popularity in the U.S. and Europe, the company sees great potential for its bluefin tuna there. Farming addresses growing public concern that overfishing is driving bluefin tuna into extinction.
Through generations of selective breeding, Maruha Nichiro has been able to dramatically raise the odds of juvenile bluefin tuna growing to maturity in a fish farm. It now anticipates its shipments of fully farmed tuna soaring fivefold from fiscal 2015 to about 600 tons, or roughly 10,000 individual fish, in the fiscal year starting in April 2018.
Japanese fish farms produced 15,000 tons of bluefin tuna in 2015, but less than 300 tons was raised from eggs into maturity. Maruha Nichiro, Osaka's Kindai University and Toyota Tsusho are among the few organizations that produce fully farmed bluefin tuna.
In 2013, 26,000 tons of wild bluefin tuna was caught worldwide.