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Propagated Baby Tuna Growing Up To 35 Grams

The first propagated southern bluefin tuna in the world are growing rapidly in tanks at Arno Bay as Clean Seas Tuna gears up to go into commercial production later this year.

The handful of fish the company has kept from the first ever spawning of southern bluefin tuna range in age from 50 to 60 days, with the larger tuna weighing up to 35 grams and measuring 10 to 15 centimeters in length.

The tuna are being fed a mixture of fish meal and dry matter every 60 to 90 minutes around the clock and the temperature in the tanks is being lowered to slow their growth rate.

The fish the company has would normally have been put into sea pens by this stage of development, but as the water is too cold, they are being kept onshore.

The hatchery has so far jumped most of the hurdles to keep the tuna growing, including preventing the fish swimming into the walls of the tank and injuring themselves by placing a curtain about 15 centimeters in from the walls.

“We are writing the script as we go along,” Clean Seas chairman Hagen Stehr said.

“No one has done this before so we are breaking new ground every day.”

Clean Seas is in the midst of a capital raising program to double its tuna breeding infrastructure at Arno Bay.

New Zealand’s Fisheries Minister Phil Heatley made a visit to the Arno Bay facility earlier this week and was impressed with what he saw going on.

“It is just stunning the progress they have made,” he said.

“Despite the myriad challenges they have faced, they have made a world breakthrough.”

The minister was in Port Lincoln and Arno Bay to look over the entire aquaculture industry so his country could press ahead with reforms.

Minister Heatley said New Zealand envies the way Port Lincoln and the rest of South Australia has forged ahead with its aquaculture industry.

“We have a wonderful sea space but marine farming hasn’t got off the ground as quickly as we would have hoped,” he said.

A more in depth look at the Arno Bay operation will appear in the Port Lincoln Times over the coming weeks.