TRANSCRIPT - Antonio Garcia Gomez
Garcia Gomez is a Research Scientist at the Spanish Oceanographic
Institute (Instituto Espaniol de Oceanografia).
Can tuna farming help avoid excessive fishing in the Mediterranean
and the North Atlantic?
are not any persuading reasons to prove if fish farming is reducing
or increasing fishing. In my opinion, it is not having a negative
or positive effect. In the future, it is possible that tuna might
be raised from young fish to commercial size and this could reduce
the strain on wild populations.
you think tuna aquiculture can help alleviate excessive fishing
in the Mediterranean and North Atlantic?
In the future,
when farming of tuna consists of production from young fish to commercial
size, it is possible that it will reduce the strains on wild populations.
Currently the system is not closed, that is to say that tuna are
not raised from young fish, and therefore it does not have a significant
impact on fishing. In the future, when tuna production consists
of raising young fish to commercial size fish, this could mean some
reduction in the strain on wild populations of tuna, on the fishing
What is the
motive of raising tuna in order to release them in the open ocean
or farm them?
The experimental project that we are going to begin in 2003 with
the collaboration of researchers of eight countries and nine institutions
is a study of the feasibility of reproducing tuna in captivity.
The objective is to try to develop a technique that allows a sustainable
production of these species for farmers. This does not mean that
the research or the techniques that are developed won't be used
in the future to produce tuna for the purpose of enlarging wild
will last three years with funding of the European Union. It's a
feasibility study. That is to say that once the project is over
we will have a clear idea of which techniques are more appropriate.
Most likely we will have to begin a second part to the project to
better and perfect this technique so farmers can use it. That is
to say that in a period of five to ten years at most, hopefully
this technique should be developed.
Is there anything else that is important to say about your research?
It is important
to know that the research about tuna farming that is being carried
out and will be carried out in the coming years. It will take place
within a general research strategy of aquaculture in the Mediterranean
as well as at a global level. It consists of diversifying fish production
in aquaculture. It will go beyond the traditional species that have
been raised during the last 15 to 20 years and begin to work with
other types of species.
In this case,
tuna is classified in the species as one of the species of high
growth. The tuna is a species that grows 10 to 20 times faster than
other traditional Mediterranean species, like sea bass, gilthead,
and even including the salmon and the turbot. Nevertheless, these
species have important economic interest because of their rapid
growth. Other species need a year and one-half to reach commercial
size, and the tuna can reach this size in a period of two to three
months. This is important. Therefore it's not only the asking price
of this species. If it can be produced in large quantities, it could
satisfy world demand on a global level.
What do you think about the polemic of tuna farming?
One would have
to study the polemic from the differing points of view. My opinion
is really that what is happening to the sea is similar to what is
happening to the earth. It is like the fight that happened between
the sheep producer and the rancher. That is to say, it is similar
to what happened with the fight between hunters and ranchers. The
fishermen think that their hunting ground - that was free for them
- their hunting territory, is being stolen from them. The farmers
are looking for an area where they can expand.
In the future,
aquaculture will have no limit, and in the future fishing will be
specialized to a few concrete species. Almost all the species on
the market will be farmed. The governments of different countries
are sensitive enough to the problem of the environment and will
closely follow it. We will have to watch this in order to define
the environment's capacity to produce and limit the production to
this capacity. These issues exist with any farmed species. In the
case of tuna, it is thought that this fish is more polluting. I
think that in the future the truth will show that it is like any
Can you comment on the necessity of using antibiotics and chemical
don't know of any antibiotics or chemical products in tuna production.
It is possible that in the future, if this production continues
to grow or if we begin to work with smaller fish, or for a longer
period of time. Currently they are farmed in a period of five to
six months. If it reaches farming for one or two years it may be
necessary to use some treatment to avoid outbreak of illness. For
now, all chemicals or antibiotic use is well regulated by the government
of Spain and the European Union. The use of antibiotics is very
limited and tuna will be confined to the same standards that exist
for other farm species.
Again, do you think tuna aquaculture can help alleviate excessive
fishing in Mediterranean and North Atlantic?
Well, currently tuna aquaculture doesn't affect the situation positively
or negatively. Because the fish that are raised are regulated by
the ICAAT, and they are not fished beyond what is permitted. In
the future, when the aquaculture consists of farming from young
fish to commercial size fish, it is probable that aquaculture will
reduce, in some form, the pressure of fishing on the wild species
in the open sea.
I will also
explain about the things related to the environment. Considering
that tuna is a species that is sensitive to the quality of the environment,
and faced with the need to maintain farming for years, businesses
themselves are aware of the need to maintain the environment in
the best of conditions. Furthermore, they promote research that
leads to the farming and caring of tuna from birth, from egg to
small fish. For this reason all these businesses are collaborating
very closely with the scientific community. To complete this reproductive
investigation precisely, this installation here, this cage is where
they will complete this research.
Anything else that you think might be helpful?
More than 90
percent of tuna is destined for the Japanese market. Currently large
fish are farmed which are valued by Japan. In the future the market
will expand to other countries. And what is more, it will begin
to accept smaller size fish. Currently these smaller fish are not
in market in those countries. In the future this smaller size fish
will be accepted. The development of tuna farms in the Mediterranean
is growing considerably.
are farms in Malta, Croatia, Portugal, and possibilities in France
and Greece. Also, they might install in countries in the north of
Africa. At a global scale, Australia, Mexico, Japan and inclusively,
it is said in South Africa. Many countries are interested and it's
probable that farming will expand considerably. In Spain's case,
many businesses have been created in the last three years. Tuna
farming has surpassed the farming of other traditional marine species
in very few years.