Challenges and successes in bluefin tuna farming in Croatia – The success story of the Croatian Kali Tuna farm in Ugljan is impressive. Since 2009, the company has achieved great recognition in bluefin tuna farming, becoming the second country in the world, after Japan, to succeed in this endeavor. The company has received global accolades, such as the Friend of the Sea certification and the Superior Taste Award from the International Taste Institute.
Despite the success, the industry still heavily relies on wild tuna fishing. Croatia has 12 authorized fishermen who use rods and lines to catch bluefin tuna with a minimum weight of 8 kg for growth. This value is lower than the 10 kg threshold applied in other countries because the Adriatic is considered a natural feeding ground for younger tuna.
The captured tuna are subsequently transferred to farms using special vessels or towed transport cages. Once they reach a weight of around 30 kg, usually after about 2.5 years, they can be sold in the market. Throughout the entire process, from capture to sale, strict international regulations and guidelines are followed.
Tuna farming requires spacious cages located in exposed oligotrophic coastal waters with currents exceeding 10 cm/s, salinity between 36 and 39 PPT, and dissolved oxygen levels above 90 percent. Tuna are fed a special diet that includes fresh sardines and anchovies.
The industry faces various challenges, such as dependence on the Japanese market and the high cost of constructing new tuna farming facilities. Additionally, the long-term impacts on the environment and wild fish populations still need to be studied and monitored. Tuna’s high feed conversion ratio and ICCAT restrictions pose additional hurdles.
The industry is striving to balance profitability with sustainability, but the rising production costs are a significant concern. Maintaining affordable prices for consumers will be crucial to ensure the long-term viability of the red tuna industry in Croatia.
Challenges and successes in bluefin tuna farming in Croatia