Clean Seas tuna begin spawning

Posted by Nicole Eckersley on 27th January 2011

The hotly-anticipated spawning season for Southern Bluefin Tuna researchers Clean Seas Tuna has begun, with the company’s broodstock beginning spawning late last week.

The company have come closer than any other establishment to successfully breeding the prized fish in captivity, with disappointment last year when none of the company’s young ‘fingerling’ tuna survived past 38 days. The company suffered further misfortune with the accidental death of a large number of its kingfish during a bathing round in September.

Populations of Bluefin Tuna are crashing around the world due to overfishing, with the Atlantic Bluefin Tuna widely believed to be in serious danger of extinction. The fish are more valuable than ever, with a single 342kg fish selling for 32.49 million yen – just under A$400,000 – two weeks ago.

With the eyes of the fisheries world trained on them, the company’s managing director Clifford Ashby said that initiatives in 2010 mean they are now “well placed to progress its knowledge and achievements in the production of juvenile aquaculture-bred Southern Bluefin Tuna”.

“These include the new recirculation SBT hatchery which has now been fully commissioned via a successful trial of yellowtail kingfish fingerling production.  Further, the Company has completed its recruitment of a skilled SBT research and development team which is now in place at Arno Bay providing ongoing support to the commercial hatchery team,” Ashby said in a statement to the ASX.

Clean Seas emphasised that the company’s research is ongoing, with conditions changing from year to year and spawn to spawn, and as such, no estimates can be provided as to how this year’s spawning season will progress. Spawning seasons in 2009 and 2010 both ended in mid-April.

Ashby also said that while the company’s half-year results were yet to be finalised, they expected a reduction in the level of after-tax losses of around 25-30% compared to the previous half-year.

“The winter months are seasonally slow growth months for Kingfish. Whilst this impacts on the first half-year results the sell-down of inventory, price increases and cost saving initiatives have resulted in the Company’s kingfish business being cash flow positive for the latest half-year.

Clean Seas interim results are expected in February.