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Kinki tuna

Guests dine on landmark research at new gourmet restaurant

By RJ Whitehead , 08-Feb-2013

Western Japan's Kinki University will soon open a restaurant in downtown Osaka specialising in blue-fin tuna and other types of fish that have been artificially raised from eggs at its aquaculture facilities.

According to China’s Xinhua news agency, the ultimate goal of this experimental restaurant is to make farmed seafood as popular as commonly available meats. To do so the restaurant, which will open in April, will use a number of products raised by a team led by Hidemi Kumai from the university’s fisheries laboratory.

The university says that the 100-seat restaurant will have a menu consisting only of farmed fish served with locally grown seaweed, vegetables and fruits.

Seventy-seven-year-old Kumai, an aquaculture veteran who has been researching the subject for the last 54 years, recently told Xinhua that the initial success of the restaurant will help improve the image and reputation of farmed fish among consumers.

And by addressing growing concerns and worldwide criticism over the depletion of wild tuna stocks—in particular blue-fin—in ocean waters, the restaurant will quickly gain credibility, Kumai said.

Landmark research

In 2002, he became the first person ever to succeed in artificially breeding blue-fin tuna fry from eggs. 

Four years later, the research team confirmed that 160 of the hatched fish had grown to adult size, with average length of 120cm and weight of 70kg. Today, tuna bred by this method constitute around 15% of the total number found in Japanese waters.

"Although aquaculture techniques for fish have been passed on over many generations—especially in China, India and Japan-cultivating saltwater fish has not been widespread enough for commercialisation in Japan, so I saw the opportunity,” Kumai said.

Changing perceptions

He added that there is the need to change consumers' perception so that farmed fish can be commercially promoted. He said that seafood consumers, especially the Japanese and some Europeans, tend to think that wild fish caught in the sea are better tasting and safer than artificially raised fish.

"Traditional ideas about wild fish are often scientifically inaccurate, so our teams will open our seafood restaurant to demonstrate our resolve. We will also make use of customer feedback to further our research," he said.

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