World’s first breeding of bluefin tuna in a land-based facility achieved

Spanish researchers from the IEO bred Atlantic bluefin tuna in a land-based facility for the first time.

NP190723_reproducción ICRA atún rojo
Egg harvest at bluefin tuna tank. Credits: Aurelio Ortega y Fernando de la Gándara
July 20, 2023

Researchers from the Murcia Oceanographic Center of the Spanish Institute of Oceanography (IEO, CSIC) have achieved, for the first time, worldwide, the reproduction of Atlantic bluefin tuna (Thunnus thynnus) kept in captivity in a land-based facility.

The center has been working on breeding bluefin tuna since 2015 at its own facility (ICRA) located in Cartagena, Murcia. ICRA has four large tanks – two of 22 and 20 meters in diameter and 10 meters deep, and two smaller ones of 14 and 8 meters in diameter and 6 and 3 meters deep, respectively – with a total capacity of 7 million liters of water. It houses two bluefin tuna breeding stocks, one made up of 25 fish born in 2017, and another with 8 fish born in 2018.

Aurelio Ortega and Fernando de la Gándara, researchers operating the facility, explained that this last stock was hormonally induced on July 13 with hormones for the final maturation and spawning. A few hundred thousand fertilized eggs were obtained in 48 hours and close to 3 million in 72 hours, continuing spawning on the following days.

This is the first time, worldwide, that bluefin tuna have been bred in captivity in a land-based facility. The IEO previously closed the cycle of this species in 2016 but in floating cages in the sea.