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A-marine Kindai Co., Ltd.: Tuna Aquaculture

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Kinki University was established in 1949, and today has one of the largest student populations of all universities in the Kansai region, Japan. It is active in business and economic activities, and has a particularly strong record in the industrialization of research achievements in academic fields relating to fisheries and agriculture.

The depletion of marine resources has become an issue of global concern in recent years. Japan, as an island nation, has historically been a significant consumer of marine resources, and consequently is being held accountable for its role in both the creation and necessary resolution of this problem.

Let us take tuna, the archetypal luxury fish, as an example. Global consumption of tuna stands at around 2 million tons a year, of which 500,000 tons, or one fourth, is consumed by Japan. Further data makes irrefutably clear the scale of Japan’s consumption of fish. The retention of necessary levels of marine resources is a serious national level, and is the subject of consideration at the highest governmental levels.

Efforts to tackle the issue of marine resource depletion began in 1970, when the Fisheries Agency (today part of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries) of Japan launched the Tuna Aquaculture Project. Participants in this joint project included a number of Japanese universities, including Kinki University, and other research institutes.

Unfortunately, however, successful tuna aquaculture is extremely difficult. Juvenile tuna are extremely fragile, with delicate skin, and can die simply from being touched by human hand. They also display highly sensitized reactions to environmental changes, such as light, noise and water turbidity.

Once the original project came to an end, many of the participants eventually dropped out of the tuna aquaculture field. Kinki University, by contrast, persevered with its research and development, and in 2002, 32 years after the beginning of the first project, succeeded in artificially hatching a third generation of tuna, thereby achieving complete cultivation. It should also be noted that the university has also developed a unique aquacultural method for the breeding of wide-ranging fish that is adapted to their migrant needs.

This achievement signified the success of Kinki University in developing a new technology that enables the complete culture of tuna from eggs to market size. The project to further develop this complete culture technology has been selected for the 21st Century COE Program and subsequently for the Global COE Program from the Japanese government.

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(A-marine Kindai Co., Ltd.)