Through the agreement, both parties will jointly-develop dry feed for Atlantic bluefin from first feeding to transfer at 10kg.
In terms of actual roles, a spokesperson for the Nutreco owned company told us the feed will be developed entirely by Skretting Italy and Next Tuna will provide access to facilities for product testing as well as insight related to their RAS system design to help optimise the product.
The collaboration will also have the support of Skretting’s global network of scientific experts and research units.
“Changing up to a formulated diet for tuna in these life-start stages can provide the stable, forward-looking platform from which the whole sector can progress,” said Umberto Luzzana, marketing manager at Skretting Italy.
The global tuna market is almost entirely based on wild-catch fisheries, but Next Tuna’s ambition is to be the first company in the world to complete the reproductive cycle of the iconic Atlantic bluefin in a closed aquaculture system, doing so at a large enough scale to be commercially viable.
The startup is in the process of constructing a land-based farm at a location north of Valencia in Spain. It said the facility will draw on all of the latest scientific developments in Atlantic bluefin tuna breeding and apply them on-the-ground in a fully controlled, floating RAS production system.
Commercial production is scheduled to get underway in 2024, gradually increasing to full capacity by 2028.
Pellet feed for grow out rearing
The new feed will utilize the knowledge and technologies that went into the development of MaGro, Skretting’s soft-extruded pellet feed dedicated for tuna designed to boost performance during grow out rearing. Launched in 2019, MaGro, was the result of over 20 years of dedicated R&D at the feed maker. It means that tuna farmers no longer need to follow baitfish feeding protocols during grow out feeding. This leads to reduced biosecurity risks, increased food-safety, and simplified operations; while keeping sustainability in focus, said Skretting.
Bluefin tuna are particularly fussy eaters. Previous attempts by the industry to find alternatives to baitfish feeding had failed – usually with the tuna rejecting the pellets for being too hard and unpalatable, according to the fish and shrimp feed manufacturer.
Tuna producing regions
The main tuna producing regions are Japan and the Mediterranean, according to the Skretting spokesperson.
"Japan is the only country where there is regular tuna hatchery production. Approximately 50% of the volume stocked in the net-pens is hatchery produced, while the rest is wild caught. Although the hatchery production is limited and not fully commercially established yet, it is still one step ahead from the rest of the tuna farming countries.
"In the Mediterranean, hatchery production of tuna has not been established yet. Through our collaboration with Next Tuna we aim to make it happen."