"Can Bluefin Tuna Farms Work?"

"Bluefin tuna may not be a household name, but its taste and texture are famous — and increasingly infamous — among sushi aficionados across the world. Hailed as the finest cut of tuna sashimi, the oily, fatty belly of the bluefin has also found its way onto many do-not-eat lists among consumers and environmentalists because the fish's numbers have plummeted in recent years.

With the advent of commercial fishing operations and a skyrocketing global appetite for sushi, the Atlantic bluefin has suffered from rampant overfishing. According to the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICAAT), its numbers are now 70% below their 1970 levels.

As some sushi fans scramble to find sustainable yet equally decadent alternatives to the bluefin, commercial fishing operations are looking for ways to minimize the effect on wild stocks.

Today, a glimmer of hope for guilt-free bluefin tuna lies south of the border. Umami, an Icelandic seafood conglomerate, purchased a Mexican aquaculture operation in late 2010 and is ranching what it calls "sustainable" Pacific bluefin. It's one of several bluefin ranches that have cropped up in waters across the world."

Adam Yamaguchi and Zach Slobig report for the Los Angeles Times July 21, 2011.

Thursday, July 21, 2011