Latest News

The SELFDOTT project has been chosen as one of the 48 EU-Funded Research projects to be presented at the
Innovation Convention in Brussels from Dec. 5-6th 2011.  Over 450 applications were considered from all fields.

SELFDOTT consists of an international consortium of 13 European partners whose aim has been to breed Bluefin tuna in captivity and provide the basis for future ecologically sustainable aquaculture of this threatened species. The exhibition shows the new technologies and techniques developed to harness the reproduction of this species and monitor fish in captivity.Visitors were presented with in-situ monitoring shown together with diver assisted fish sampling and treatments, as well as live demonstrations of equipment together with video and underwater views of live tuna fingerlings produced at the IEO /Funetes facility in Cartagena, Spain


 Bluefin Tuna raised in captivity to over 1 kg in just over 3 months at the Mazarron, IEO  and Cartagena Fuentes facility in Spain . There are some hundreds of fish in both open sea cages and  landbased tanks from this years spawning.  Prospects are good for survival into next year and represent a break-through in the SELFDOTT programme.

 Download full Conclusions and Recommendations:


STAKEHOLDER MEETING:" The Future of Sustainable Tuna  Aquaculture -  Horizons for Tommorrow" under the auspices of the IEO was held by the   EU SELFDOTT group in Madrid, Spain (Aula Magna de la Escuela de Ingenieros Navales de Madrid) on the 3rd of Nov. 2011.
                                    “Sustainable Tuna  Aquaculture – New Horizons “


1.Egg Production

We envisage that  gamete production will continue in sea cage based structures for some time but “Land-based facilities which are being developed will provide a more controlled environment, allowing manipulation and guaranteed egg collection for a longer spawning period. An EU Network of excellence of  national Centers in Europe should be financially supported together with transnational access.

2.Larval Rearing

SELFDOTT has established a knowledge base for larval rearing- using an integrated approach which has lead to real progress in this field. The bottlenecks which still remain are  the product of the limited availability of eggs and larvae during a short spawning season. At the moment there is a lack of repeatability in results which needs to be addressed. Larval rearing is still at the research stage and has not reached the status  of a commercial technology.

3.Nutrition and Diets

The SELFDOTT projects on nutrition have provided a strong foundation  for future developments. Special emphasis should be placed on weaning diets and “as early as possible diets” for larvae. An alternative dry diet should be developed to replace the  present supplementary reared yolk sack larvae.

4.Fingerling Management

Fingerling transfer and cage adaptation  have been a main bottleneck in SELFDOTT  and have also  been seen by other research teams in Australia and Japan. The fingerling stage  is extremely sensitive and the   development of techniques for handling and transport require special attention.

5.New Legislation?

New regulations  may be required for  the “new products” arising out of sustainable BFT aquaculture which may no longer fall under the remit of wild population measures. In this context traceability technologies (“farm to fork”) and distinguishing between cultured and wild populations must become standard practice for the industry. Previous legislative models for aquaculture  of endangered species  may serve as an example.

6. Finance and Funding?

Further public funding  is required for research to close some of the gaps in our knowledge and over come some of the remaining bottlenecks. Continuing cooperative industrial support and investment is also necessary  to translate  research results into commercial technology.

This group strongly recommends that in future  EU FP calls specific  problems of  the sustainable tuna aquaculture industry should be addressed.


First batches of eggs and larvae doing well in Spain. Awaiting first transfer to open sea cages within the next week or two. Larval results from Israel,  Crete and Malta show steady progression with survival rates as expected in the first 30 days. Choice of feed now at a crucial stage with YSL playing an important role and copepod suppliments being used in Mlata for the first time.

150 Million Eggs now collected in Spain 12.07.2011.  The first 10,000 twenty-five  DPH larvae are being weaned for sea cage transfer in 12-15 days. More batches to follow.

Deutschlandfunk Report on BFT:

STAKEHOLDER MEETING:" The Future of Sustainable Tuna  Aquaculture -  Horizons for Tommorrow" under the auspices of the IEO to be held by the   EU SELFDOTT group in Madrid, Spain (Aula Magna de la Escuela de Ingenieros Navales de Madrid) on the 3rd of Nov. 2011. Online Flyer and Registration Form (to download)

For further information send email request to (bridges


Large quantities of BFT eggs have now been shipped to hatcheries in Israel, France and Crete from the Spanish SELFDOTT cages.  Eggs are being collected on a regular basis and vary between a few thousand to 40 million on  a single day. In Malta although low numbers of eggs are being collected after induction, maximum 250,000  (Sunday 3rd July) probably due to the strong currents in the  shallow cages, already numerous hatching experiments are being tried and for the first time copepod  suplementation will be in use with support from Norwegian collegues  (SINTEF), another first for the SELFDOTT project. In the last year of the project we hope that the constant supply of eggs will enable multiple trials to take place. The  commercial partners involved n the work , the Fuentes group from Spain, Malta Fish Farms and the Skretting group all have played an important role so far in the development of what  will be a truly sustainable  aquaculture of Bluefing Tuna.

  Press release:


The SELFDOTT tuna cage in Spain has  begun to supply a steady stream of eggs to the IEO facility and the other SELFDOTT hatcheries around the world. The first sign of eggs was spotted around the 9th of June and to date over 24 million eggs have already been released within 7 days, with a maximum so far of 16 million eggs on one day.

Third generation spawning of Atlantic bonito is obtained
The Atlantic bonito broodstock (Sarda sarda) at the marine culture plant in Mazarrón belonging to the Murcian Oceanographic Centre of the Spanish Institute of Oceanography (IEO) have begun to spawn viable eggs spontaneously, and researchers are rearing the third generation of individuals born in captivity .

(See Press Release IEO)


Clean Seas Complete their Spawning Season:
Successful transfer of fingerlings to seas cages.

Effects of the Tsunami felt in  Kinki Facility:

Some broodstock were lost and a number of structures have been damaged including cages etc even though the facilities are over 800km from the earthquake epi centre. The focus now is to re-establish the facilities. 

Japanese Researchers almost complete whole Pacific Bluefin Tuna Genome (see article)


Successful Coordination meeting held  in  Montpellie at UM2. European researchers make plans for the next BFT spawning season.  Further scientific meetings to be held at the EAS meeting in Rhodes in October  and a Stakeholder meeting to in November 2011
Last fingerlings from 2010 spawning die in SELFDOTT facility in Mazarron Spain at approximately 120 DPH
The last ALLOTUNA fingerling "Little Luigi II" died  in November at 258 g and 21 cm.
Proceedings of  "The 40th Anniversary of Pacific Bluefin Tuna Aquaculture "Towards the Sustainable Aquaculture of Bluefin Tuna" held in Amami (Japan) on 15th October can be found under publications:
by Fernando Lopez Mirones (New Atlantis) and Jose Luis Cort (IEO), is finished and available on the  link

ARTE Telvision report (X:enius-report)

Archive on SELFDOTT in Malta October 2010






LARVAE/ FINGERLINGS REACH 40+ Days Survival in  Spain and Italy under SELFDOTT and ALLOTUNA research teams.


The 2010 spawning season has started with spontaneous spawning in Spanish Broodstock for the first time and limited induced spawning in Malta Brood stock. In the ALLOTUNA project in Bari 20 million eggs were collected in 1 day. In Spain 11 million eggs were collected on 1 day from 2 cages.


 Article Published on Bonito Spawning

New Scientist Article Link


5 years ago, my colleague and friend Aurelio Ortega (Yeyo) had a dream: to achieve the domestication of Atlantic bonito (Sarda sarda).As you know, after some very promising trials in the period 2005-2007, we have decided to include it in the SELFDOTT project as the bonito is an scombrid, and it could be consider as a model for the bluefin tuna culture.Last year, after a wise and hard work carried out by Yeyo and also by our technician Javier Viguri, a few bonitos born in captivity in our facilities survived...Last Friday evening-night these bonitos have spawned. So, as the SELFDOTT coordinator is for me a pleasure to announce that...for the first time in the world...


We will keep you updated about more news related to this very important event.

Best regards


Dr. Fernando de la Gándara
Investigador Titular

Instituto Español de Oceanografia (IEO) 
Centro Oceanografico de Murcia
Planta de Cultivos Marinos
Ctra. de la Azohia s/n
30860 - Puerto de Mazarron (Murcia) 

Australian Clean Seas Project Report  Succesful New Spawning of Captive Fish after Induction: see link
Tuna eggs ID through simple test kit available within hours:
One of the major concerns pelagic egg identification of Tuna when they spawn has now been solved with a rapid, simple test  with in a few hours with a proprietary gel-electrophoresis system which enables protein fingerprinting. Further developments of the SELFDOTT partners UNIDUS, MFF and MRRA and have enabled both  atlantic BFT to be distinguished from all other Tuna species and also  individual females and male within hours using molecular techniques. This breakthrough will enable a much tighter control on individual species (CITES) relevant and also controlled husbandry of induced spawning and egg quality for sustainable tuna aquaculture.

Example of comparison between  BFT, Amberjacks and Sea Bream eggs.

CITES ban could  have severe consequences for Dommestication Research !.
Whilst welcoming most attempts to  protect dwindling BFT tuna stocks the present proposal being considered in Dohar may have serious consequences for future Domestication Research.  It is difficult to foresee how the research work, which has been  supported by the logistics and capital investment of numerous Fish Farmers can continue if these are  no longer commercially viable.  How the proposed close liason with CITES and ICCAT should work in the future if no commercial fishery exists for BFT remains unknown.  Too date BFT farming is one of the most closely controlled aspects of BFT management and the SELFDOTT project has also been rigourously controlled. Domestication of this species is possible as shown by our Japanese colleagues and for European scientist it is only a matter of time. Successful spawning in captivity has been possible from 2005 and last years successes in Spain (138 million eggs) show that larval rearing is now the bottle neck to overcome. One would think a CITES ban should stimulate research into domestication but it may have the opposite effect.


BBC World Service Broadcast on SELFDOTT in Malta

posted 18 Mar 2010, 01:26 by Chris Bridges   [ updated 18 Mar 2010, 01:30 ]

 Below you can find link to the podcast of the BBC programme Discovery which was looking at "Feeding the World" and visited the SELFDOTT site in Malta.
This week the Atlantic Bluefin tuna could be banned from international trade at a CITES meeting in Dohar, as some scientists fear the fish will become extinct because of overfishing. Sue Broom meets researchers who are attempting to breed the tuna from eggs in captivity and asks if tuna aquaculture is a sustainable way to produce food and help protect the wildstock.

posted 15 Mar 2010, 00:16 by Chris Bridges   [ updated 16 Mar 2010, 05:21 ]


posted 3 Feb 2010, 00:11 by Chris Bridges   [ updated 15 Mar 2010, 00:20 ]


From the 1-4  Feb a coordination meeting and workshop
was held at the HCMR lab in Heraklion Crete. Guests from
the USA, Japan, Italy and Crete also attended the meeting.

New data on the success of egg production and larval rearing
pilot studies were given by the 16 Partners of SELFDOTT.
Guests presented  comparative data from their specific field of reproductive biology and larval rearing.
Annual coordination and dissemination meeting of the EU 7th FP programme SELFDOTT.

In the week of 1-5 February 2010, the annual coordination and dissemination meeting of the EU 7th FP programme SELFDOTT (From capture based to SELF-sustained aquaculture and DOmestication of bluefin tuna, Thunnus Thynnus) was held at the facilities of the Hellenic Center for Marine Research in Crete, Greece.  The objectives of the research programme include (a) the study of reproduction of the Atlantic bluefin tuna in captivity and the induction of spawning and production of viable eggs, (b) the development of larval rearing methods and the production of juveniles for on-growing in sea cages and (c) the development of an appropriate and environmentally performing commercial feed; all necessary steps for the domestication of the Atlantic bluefin tuna and the transition from a capture-based, fattening industry, to a self-sustain real aquaculture industry.

The meeting was attended by 36 researchers from the 13 partner institutions, as well as 6 invited scientists from the USA and Japan.  The major achievements so far in the programme include the induction of spawning and the production of large numbers of viable eggs and the successful rearing of even a small number of juveniles using established larval rearing methods.  In more detail, in the three-and-a-half days of presentations (See attached Meeting Schedule), information was presented on the:

1.               Spawning induction of captive stocks and the production of large numbers of viable offsprings,

2.               Management of eggs and shipment to various larval rearing sites throughout the Mediterranean Sea,

3.               Testing of different methods for the rearing of the early life stages,

4.               Ontogeny of the digestive system and the organs associated with food capture and processing,

5.               Development of broodstock diets based on the body composition of wild fish muscle and gonads,

6.               Development of environmentally friendly and efficient commercial feeds,

7.               Study of the process of gametogenesis and puberty in captive populations

8.               Behaviour of captive broodstocks.

In the fourth day of the meeting, the participants took a tour of the AQUALABS, the facilities of the Institute of Aquaculture, and the Creta Aquarium.

For further information please contact:

SELFDOTT coordinator

Dr. Fernando de la Gándara


Telephone: + 34 968153964


HCMR Scientific Responsible

Dr. Constantinos Mylonas


Telephone: +30 2810 337878


Dissemination Coordinator

Prof. Chris Bridges


Tel. +492118114991

Annual Meeting Crete

posted 18 Jan 2010, 01:02 by Chris Bridges   [ updated 19 Jan 2010, 23:42 ]


Second Annual Meeting   of SELFDOTT

From capture based to self sustained aquaculture and domestication of bluefin tuna, Thunnus thynnus
 Hellenic Center for Marine Research (Crete, Greece)   1st – 4th February 2010


Monday 1st February, 2010 OPENING DAY

08:15 Pick up from the Hotel & transfer to HCMR

09:00 Opening CC Mylonas & F. de la Gándara

09:15 Greetings from the Director of the Institute of Marine Biology and Genetics (HCMR), Dr. Antonis Magoulas

09:30 Greetings from the Director of the Institute of Aquaculture (HCMR), Dr. Pascal Divanach

09:45 - 19:30 Presentation of major results in Year 2

09:45 - 10:00 - WP1 Coordination  F. de la Gándara (IEO, Spain)
10:00 - 11:30 - WP2 Reproduction. C.C. Mylonas

10:00 – 10:30 WP2.1 Spawning induction and egg collection. Fernando de la Gandara (IEO, Spain)

10:30 – 11:00 WP2.4 Puberty. Hanna Rosenfeld (IOLR, Israel)

11:00 – 11:30 WP2.5 Broodstock nutrition. Robert Vassallo Agius (MCFS, Malta)

11:30 – 12:00 Coffee break

12:00 – 13:30 WP3 Larval Rearing. D. Covès

12:00 – 12:20 Intensive rearing. Aurelio (Yeyo) Ortega (IEO, Spain)

12:20 – 12:40 Mesocosm rearing. Nikos Papandroulakis (HCMR, Greece)

12:40 – 13:00 Lateral line development. Alain Ghyssen (U Montpellier II, France)

13:00 – 13:30 Discussion

13:30 - 14:30 Lunch break

14:30 – 15:30 WP4 Nutrition.  F. de la Gándara

14:30 – 14:50 Stomach content. Antonio Medina (U Cadiz, Spain)

14:50 – 15:10 Weaning tuna. Karl Sveinsvoll (SARC, Norway)

15:10 - 15:30 Nutritional profile of the body of bluefin tune juveniles. Yannis Negas (HCMR, Greece)

15:30 - 18:30 Guest Presentations

15:30 - 16:00 A preliminary study of digestive enzyme ontogeny and amino acid composition of early juvenile yellowfin tuna (Thunnus albacares). Alejandro Buentello (Texas A&M University, USA)

16:00 - 16:30 Production and long-distance land transportation of Pacific bluefin tuna Thunnus orientalis juveniles in Kinki University in 2009. Keitaro Kato (Kinki University, Japan)

16:30 - 17:00 Experimental rearing of juvenile Pacific bluefin tuna Thunnus orientalis using formulated diets. Manabu Seoka (Kinki University, Japan)

17:00 – 17:30 Coffee break

17:30 -17:45 Spawning induction and egg collections in the Project ALLOTUNA. Aldo Corriero, (U Bari, Italy)

17:45 - 18:00 Larval rearing in the Project ALLOTUNA, Massimo Caggiaro (Panittica Pugliese, Italy)

18:00 - 18:30  Atlantic Bluefin Tuna:  Are current reproduction and migration paradigms correct? Molly Lutcavage (U New Hamshire, USA)

18:30 – 19:30 General discussion

19:45 Pick up from HCMR & transfer to the Hotel

21:00 Dinner at "Kounies" a restaurant with traditional Cretan  

Tuesday 2nd February, 2010 CONSORTIUM MEETING

08:15 Pick up from the Hotel & transfer to HCMR

09:00 - 10:00 Coordination F. de la Gandara

10:00 – 13:30 WP2 Reproduction, Presentation of results and tasks planned for Year 3. CC Mylonas

10.00 – 10:15 Vitellogenin gene expression and yolk accumulation in wild vs captive tuna. Chrysovalentino Pousis (U Bari)

10:15 – 10:30 Proliferation and apoptosis in male germ cells: comparison between wild and captive-reared tuna. Rosa Zupa (U Bari)

10:30 - 10:45 Atlantic bluefin tuna sperm characteristics. Christian Fauvel (IFREMER)

10:45 – 11:00 Parental contribution in spawning. Cilia Antoniou (HCMR)

11:00 – 11:30 Coffee break

11:30 - 11:45 Carotenoids and lipids in tuna diets Manuella Garraffo (U Bari, Italy)

11:45 – 12:00 Failed spawning induction in Malta 2009. Hillel Gordin (IOLR)

12:00 - 12:15 Failed spawning induction in the Malta stock: any ideas? Aldo Corriero (U Bari)

12.15 – 12.30 Spawning induction 2010. Robert Vassallo Agius (MCFS)

12.30 – 12:45 Land based faciltites: Spain. Fernando de la Gandara (IEO)

12:45 – 13.00 Land based faciltites: Greece. AQUALABS Pascal Divanach (HCMR)

13:00 - 14:00 Lunch break (Creta Aquarium)

14:00 - 16:00 WP 2 Reproduction, Discussion of activities: past and future. CC Mylonas

16:00 - 16:30 Coffee break

16:30 - 17:30 WP5 Dissemination. C. Bridges

17:30 - 19:00 WP1 Coordination, Annual Report. F. de la Gandara

19:15 Pick up from the HCMR & transfer to the Hotel



Wednesday 3rd February, 2010 CONSORTIUM MEETING

08:15 Pick up from the Hotel & transfer to HCMR

9:00 – 19:00 WP3 Larval rearing, Presentation of results and tasks planned for Year 3. D. Coves

09.00 – 09:30 Bonito and BFT egg transport operations and incubation results synthesis. Aurelio Ortega (IEO)

09.30 – 10:00 Clear water larval rearing Denis Covès. (IFREMER)

10.00 – 10:30 Ontogeny of visual and neuroendocrine system. Laurence Besseau (CNRS)

10.30 – 11:00 Ontogeny of the digestive system. Ioannis Papadakis (HCMR)

11:00 – 11:30 Onset of the digestive enzymes and microbiotal diversity. Chantal Cahu (IFREMER)

11:30 – 12:00 Coffee break

12:00 – 12:30 Bacterial characterization and immune system. Pavlos Makridis (HCMR)

12.30 – 13.30 Optional additional presentations by Keitaro Kato and/or Manabu Seoka. (or Year 2 results discussion and tasks planned for Year 3. Denis Covès (IFREMER)

13:30 - 14:30 Lunch break (Creta Aquarium)

14:30 - 16:00 Year 2 results discussion and tasks planned for Year 3. D. Coves (IFREMER)

16:00 - 16:30 Coffee break

16:30 - 19:00 Year 2 results discussion and tasks planned for Year 3. D. Coves (IFREMER)

19:15 Pick up from the HCMR & transfer to the Hotel

21:00 Dinner at "Ladokolla" a restaurant with traditional Cretan cuisine


Thursday 4th February, 2010 Visit of Aqualabs and Cretaquarium

08:15 Pick up from the Hotel & transfer to HCMR

09:00 - 12:00 WP 4 Nutrition, F. de la Gandara

09.00 – 09:20 Capture of BFT juveniles F. de la Gándara (IEO)

09:20 – 09:40 Develop a performing feed for BFT juveniles. Karl Sveinsvoll (SARC) and Yannis Negas (HCMR)

09.40 – 10:00 Environmental impact of different feeds. Antonio Belmonte (Taxon)

10.00 –– 11:00 WP 4 Nutrition. Discussion of activities: past and future.  F. De la Gandara

11:00 - 11:30 Coffee break

SELFDOTT Presented in Kinki 2ND GLOBAL COE PROGRAM Symposium in Adelaide Australia December 2009

posted 5 Jan 2010, 07:27 by Chris Bridges   [ updated 5 Jan 2010, 08:27 ]





Adelaide, Australia 30th Nov. – 2. Dec. 2009


The Challenge of Domestication of Bluefin Tuna, Thunnus thynnus  - Highlights of the SELFDOTT Project from 2008 -2009.

 F. de la Gándara1, C.C. Mylonas2, D. Covès3, C.R. Bridges4, A. Belmonte Ríos5, R. Vassallo-Agius6,

H. Rosenfeld, A. Medina7, G. Demetrio8, J. Falcon9, K. Sveinsvoll10,  A. Ghysen11, S. Deguara12





EU Meeting in Barcelona

posted 23 Oct 2009, 05:00 by Chris Bridges   [ updated 5 Jan 2010, 07:29 ]


posted 24 Jul 2009, 00:40 by Chris Bridges   [ updated 23 Oct 2009, 03:04 ]

European Researchers hit Tuna  Spawning Bonanza!!!
Two EU funded research projects have  both simultaneously produced  millions of Tuna eggs after artificial induction of captive fish in  sea cages  in the Mediterranean this year. In the  SELFDOTT project (From capture based to SELF-sustained aquaculture and Domestication of bluefin tuna, Thunnus thynnus), daily spawnings consisting of 140 million eggs have been obtained at the project´s installations in Cartagena (Spain), which are managed by the Tuna Graso company, with a maximum of 34 million eggs on Friday 3rd July, a figure which has never been achieved in previous projects. The second project  ALLOTUNA based in Calabria and funded by the region Puglia at the Marenostro facilities were able to produce up to a total of 46 million eggs over a number of days and  reproduce for a second year running viable quantities of eggs for international hatcheries.  The numerous international hatcheries based in France, Spain, Malta, Crete and Israel are all now concentrating on the developing larvae.  The international consortia of scientists used techniques from a previous EU funded project REPRODOTT to make this breakthrough.

This is  a tremendous boost for the European  Union funded projects  to show that “eggs on demand “ may   be a  sustainable pathway for aquaculture  and help  the conservation  of the dwindling tuna stocks in the future.

On the 7th of July in Spain  excess eggs were returned to the sea and this symbolic historical act , when for the first time living Tuna eggs have been returned to the sea from breeding fish in captivity marks a small step on the road to recovery. The validity of such restocking programmes is hard to assess but every little could help together with other ecologically sustainable management concepts for wild and aquaculture stocks in the future.

For further information please consult our Press Statement  (PDF) below or contact

 Prof. Chris Bridges (Dissemination Coordination)

Tel : +492118114991  or +491739531905



posted 24 Mar 2009, 01:51 by Chris Bridges   [ updated 24 Jul 2009, 00:45 ]


A successful Coordination Meeting and Workshop was  held  at the Univerisity of  Bari, Department of Animla Welfare  from the 3rd till the 6th of March, 2009. It was well attended by an international group of scientists from the EU and overseas and also M.Sc. students from the Aquaculture course run under the auspices of ALLOTUNA. The annual report for SELFDOTT outlining the progress made in 2008 will soon be made available to the general public after ratification by the EC.



posted 17 Mar 2009, 06:57 by Chris Bridges   [ updated 23 Jul 2009, 08:16 ]

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