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URI, firm developing techniques for tuna aquaculture

June 12, 2013 at 6:32 PM

NARRAGANSETT, R.I., June 12 (UPI) -- Yellowfin tuna swim in a tank University of Rhode Island's Bay Campus in the first U.S. effort to breed tuna in a land-based aqua farm, the university said.

"Worldwide demand for tuna increases yearly, even as tuna stocks are dwindling precipitously," Terry Bradley, a URI professor of fisheries and aquaculture, said in a release Wednesday. "What we're trying to do is produce fish in captivity and take the pressure off the wild stocks."

Bradley and Peter Mottur, director of Rhode Island-based Greenfins, are working to develop techniques to raise tuna from egg to harvest-size while creating a new sustainable industry in Rhode Island.

Bradley and Mottur's efforts to get a few wild-caught tuna to spawn in the URI tank have been challenging, the university said. Because tuna are long-distance migrants that swim at great speeds, acclimating them to a 20,000-gallon, 20-foot-diameter tank has been difficult. Once fish spawn and eggs hatch, the microscopic larvae must be fed live food raised on site then weaned from live food to a dry, formulated feed.

"It's a sustainable project that we hope will create green technology jobs here in Rhode Island to leverage the great intellectual capital we have in the state," Mottur said. "We've already developed a partnership between URI and my company, and we hope to take it from the research phase to the commercialization phase once we demonstrate tuna breeding and larval rearing success."

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Topics: Rhode Island
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