Project

Building Demand for Bluefin Tuna

Improving the quality, marketability, and value for U.S. Atlantic bluefin tuna.

The U.S. Atlantic bluefin tuna (ABFT) fishery is strictly regulated, and provides a livelihood for thousands of U.S. commercial fishermen. Unfortunately, fishermen and tuna suppliers struggle to sell this highly regarded fish in domestic markets in part due to negative perceptions about its sustainability. This project aims to train fishermen on best practices to increase the quality and value of tuna being landed, and to engage local restaurants and retailers to update perceptions and increase local purchasing of bluefin tuna.

Project Goals:

  • Improve quality handling practices at the vessel level for Atlantic bluefin tuna through cooperative research.
  • Implement outreach and education to improve buyer perceptions and build local market demand for Atlantic bluefin tuna.

This project takes a multifaceted approach to addressing the challenges faced by the local bluefin tuna industry. Hands-on training and education of fishermen will improve the quality of tuna being landed, and engagement with restaurants and retailers will update common misconceptions about local bluefin, building local market demand. The combination of these approaches will have a positive impact on the domestic market for local bluefin tuna.

Two freshly cut tuna loins sit on top of a white cutting board.
A masked man in a black and red plaid shirt and blue surgical gloves wields a blade above a freshly cut piece of tuna.

Dr. Walt Golet’s lab will lead cooperative research to test and develop innovative quality handling techniques with fishermen on board their vessels. We will convene fishermen and suppliers for workshops on best practices for quality handling based on existing standards, science-based practices from Japan, and newly developed techniques. This will include trainings for fishermen on handling practices and materials that can be shared with fishermen across the east coast.

Dr. Walt Golet studies the populations and life histories of fish. Of all the fish he studies, bluefin tuna are one of his favorites. Their large size and unique physiology (these fish are warm-blooded!) are part of what make them so interesting, but on top of that, bluefin tuna also have a relatively mysterious life history. It’s these mysteries that drive Dr. Golet’s fascination.

The GMRI seafood team will host two workshops, one in Portland, Maine and one in Boston, Massachusetts, to engage seafood supply chain businesses through networking and education — from fishermen, to suppliers, to restaurants and retailers. These workshops will educate participants about the sustainability of the fishery, the bluefin tuna supply chain and marketplace, the stories of fishermen, and the quality of the product, empowering restaurants and retailers to source more local bluefin tuna. Additionally, the team will host an event featuring local bluefin at Seafood Expo North America in Boston in March 2023. This is the largest seafood trade show in North America and will be an opportunity to educate chefs, retail buyers, and seafood distributors from around the country about the opportunity to source bluefin tuna from the east coast.

Project Team:

Project Sponsor

This project is generously funded by NOAA's Saltonstall-Kennedy program.

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