What kinds of tuna do sushi bars serve and where do they come from?

i enjoyed the article about blue fin tuna. The vast majority of tuna we consume at even high end sushi restaurants are labeled wild but are actually “ranched”. That’s why they are so fatty and oily.

Ranched: Most of the “farmed” bluefin tuna are actually considered “ranched.” When a bluefin tuna is ranched, fish farmers will catch juvenile ones in the wild and move them into pens, where they are fattened until they reach sushi-grade quality and sold in the markets. But they’re still technically considered wild even if they’re ranched since fisheries still pluck them from the wild stock.


The vast majority of tuna consumed at sushi bars and elsewhere is not bluefin and is wild.

Of the many types of tuna that can be caught in the wild, only bluefin has been successfully farmed

I saw a bluefin ranch in Baja. Just south of Ensenada, by La Bufadora.

Pacific bluefin tuna farmed in Japan in marine net pens should be avoided. Almost all Pacific bluefin tuna that’s farmed in Japan is sourced from vulnerable wild stocks. In addition, the highly inefficient conversion of feed into harvestable fish is a critical concern. On average, 15 tons of wild fish are used to produce a single ton of farmed Pacific bluefin tuna. Furthermore, large volumes of nitrogen-based effluent are likely discharged, resulting in impacts to the water column and surrounding habitats.

Identical warning about Mexico.



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It’s not “wild”. It’s Ranched. Which can still be referred to as wild as referenced in the article from the LA times. But they are effectively farmed blue fin tuna.

It’s way too expensive for everyone to be serving line caught japanese bluefin tuna.


I can’t find any example of tuna other than bluefin being farmed / “ranched.”

The vast majority of tuna consumed at sushi restaurants is not bluefin. Many don’t serve bluefin at all.

So the only tuna that’s been successfully farmed is blue fin, but most the tuna being consumed at sushi
restaurants isn’t blue fin? What is it then? Farming is easier/produces a steadier supply than catching wild fish doesn’t it?


I’m a little confused. Pretty much all the notable sushi restaurants are serving bluefin tuna.

If we’re talking conveyer belt and supermarket tuna, then yeah that’s typically bigeye tuna but I specifically said high end sushi restaurants.


Wild yellowfin, bigeye, and albacore.

You said:

The vast majority of tuna we consume at even high end sushi restaurants are labeled wild but are actually “ranched”.

Few if any of the sushi places I’ve been to (high-end or otherwise) say wild or otherwise. They just say maguro, hamachi, kihado, or whatever. Most likely the bluefin I’ve had at high-end places was “ranched.”

Sushi places that aren’t high-end either don’t have bluefin.or it costs twice or more what anything else does. If it says “maguro” but costs the same as yellowfin, it’s not bluefin.

Maybe this tuna debate is worth splitting off to a new thread? Just sayin’…

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I’m pretty confident that most of us here (and most Angelenos that eat sushi regularly) would be able to tell just visually speaking the differences between yellowtail (yellowfin might be more difficult but I’ve never had yellowfin that tastes like a good blue fin), albacore, and bluefin, so I’m not sure your statement holds much weight in this regard.

Take a look at these pictures I pulled from SGO’s yelp page. Just for my own curiosity, can anyone confirm if these big trophy blue fins caught in Japan are wild VS ranched? Note: it says wild on their menu…


that’s long line caught oma bluefin sourced from yamayuki.


Cannot speak to that exact tuna, but sometimes when farmed salmon escape from their ocean pens, and are then caught by line afterwards, they can be labelled wild and line-caught. FWIW.


I was just having a conversation with a sushi chef the other week. I was curious why every blue fin I’ve tried (15+ at this point ranging from 30-200 pounds) being (line) caught from San Diego down to Mexico are simply not as good as their counterpoints in Japan, Spain, Boston, etc. The meat even looks different. Why is that? Is it the ranched VS wild debate? Something else?

Blue fins are a highly migratory species, and from what I gathered, most spawn in the pacific and make their way around the world. It would make sense that even at 200 pounds, the ones being caught here are relatively juvenile and their meat tastes different from the ones caught in Japan because of water temp., diet, amongst other factors.

It would make sense that ranched blue fins have a lot more fat than wild since they are being contained in a small net and being fed what humans choose. BUT, that Yamayuki tuna I posted looks pretty damn marbled to me and is confirmed wild so…

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Another high end sushi restaurant (Kaneyoshi) with what looks to be a wild line caught blue fin (@robert ). @PorkyBelly can you confirm?

I think the best proof a diner can get for getting wild/line caught AND it being true blue fin are these auction/tsukiji tags (like a cert. of conformance :laughing:), but even then, how can anyone be sure the fishermen didn’t take their boat close to a ranch and caught a ranched one that slipped the net (@J_L ). Are blue fin ranches even a thing in Japan or something done elsewhere?


There are three species of bluefin tuna, Pacific, Atlantic, and Southern.

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That’s an amazing article, thank you for sharing. So the trophy blue fins being caught in Japan are Pacific blue fin that have migrated back to Japan after spawning around here. The second article is saying that most of the tunas at Tsukiji/Toyosu are imported from Boston/Spain/Atlantic (which have more fat content & are superior to Pacific), however the market doesn’t distinguish between the two types. Why are sellers like Yamayuki selling line caught in Japan (Pacific Blue Fin) if Atlantic is “superior”?

60% of tuna consumed in the world is yellowfin according to the article. How much of that is being marketed as blue fin? If I were to go to lets say Jinpachi, Brother’s, Fumi, Sugarfish, etc and ask for Akami or Maguro, is it safe to assume it’s actually yellowfin tuna?

Over the four-year study, only bluefin tuna was always exactly as advertised. … Out of nine orders of yellowfin tuna, seven were a different kind of tuna, usually bigeye …


Now I’m confused, because the Medium article is saying the tuna caught around Japan is southern blue fin while the “types of tuna” article you posted is saying its Pacific blue fin…

" The rarity of the Southern Bluefin tuna, the kind found in Japan, compounds this issue, further pushing the species towards disaster and forcing the price upwards as the supply dwindles, but the demand does not."

and the UCLA article says this “Over the four-year study, only bluefin tuna was always exactly as advertised. While only one of 48 tuna samples was not tuna, different kinds of tuna occasionally swapped places, including two samples that turned out to be Atlantic bluefin tuna and southern bluefin tuna, species classified as endangered and critically endangered” which contradicts all the other articles and what you were saying on this topic before.

I think it’s just confusingly written. If you read the whole report it’s likely clearer.

I think they mean the bluefin was always bluefin, but sometimes one species of bluefin was sold as another.

It’s hard to believe anyone would substitute bluefin for any cheaper species of tuna.

Most places I’m looking up have a difference of $2 or so between yellow tail and blue fin, but now I’m genuinely curious if many of LA’s sushi spots are serving yellow fin as blue fin. The UCLA article makes it seem as though that isn’t the case.