By: Alicia Villegas
Spanish seafood supplier Ricardo Fuentes e Hijos harvested the world’s first land-farmed Atlantic bluefin tuna in early December, the company’s deputy director David Martinez told Undercurrent News.
Through its subsidiary Fortune Mare, Ricardo Fuentes has sold the first land-farmed Atlantic bluefin tunas to the Dutch supplier Jan Van As, which distributes seafood to the foodservice sector.
The Murcia-based company has sold two bluefin tunas of 25-30kg that will be distributed to the high-end foodservice segment in the Netherlands and Norway, Martinez said.
“Our activities are still considered experimental at a normative level, so we have been given a few months for our initial commercialization, but our goal is to reach 500 metric tons production annually,” Martinez said.
Ricardo Fuentes’ volume target is expected to be met within the next three or four years, Martinez said.
“We will need a few more years to meet this goal, to have a stable production and costs and, thus, have a profitable business,” Martinez said.
Land-farmed Atlantic bluefin tuna will be exported to high-end foodservice outlets from the European Union and the US, where traceability is highly appreciated.
“With farmed bluefin we guarantee, from the broodstock, where the fish comes from,” Martinez said.
Although Martinez did not disclose prices, he said land-farmed Atlantic bluefin tuna is more expensive than the wild or the conventionally farmed (caught first and then being raised at sea).
A year ago, Martinez estimated prices at Ricardo Fuentes ranging from €15 to €30 per kilo depending on the quality.
Prices for fully farmed Atlantic bluefin tuna are higher, as it offers some advantages over wild fish, such as the guarantee of traceability, sustainability or the absence of mercury levels unsafe for human consumption, Martinez said at the time.
Ricardo Fuentes has worked to achieve the successful reproduction of bluefin tuna bred in captivity since 2003.
Throughout the last ten years, the Murcia-based company has invested around €4 million, with around €2m came from public funds, mainly low interest loans, working in collaboration with different countries such as Greece, Malta, Croatia, Italy, France, Germany, Israel or Japan and public institutions like the Spanish Oceanographic Institute.
“We have the only individuals in the world of Atlantic bluefin born in captivity in the years 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014,” Martinez said.
With plans to build a hatchery for larval rearing and new technology developed, Ricardo Fuentes expects to overcome the crucial stages in the bluefin tuna farming successfully, to then produce at large scale, Martinez said a year ago.