Seriola are similar in appearance to tuna, with a sleek, streamlined body, which enables them to swim fast through the water, and makes them a popular gamefish.
They have long been eaten in Japan, but were little known to global consumers until recently, when aquaculture made them widely available, and their firm flesh and versatility made them popular with chefs.
Today, seriola are a commercially valuable aquaculture species, with more than 10,000 tonnes certified by the ASC.
The two most commonly farmed species are Seriola lalandi and Seriola quinqueradiata. Seriola are known by a number of different names, including yellowtail, amberjack, kingfish, hamachi, kampachi and hiramasa. In Japan, this fish is known by more than 20 different names, the most famous being Buri.
In the wild
Seriola species live in oceans all around the globe, and tend to swim in large schools. Depending on the species, their habitat can vary from rocky reefs and sandy coastal areas, to shallow estuaries. They are also found in depths greater than 50 metres, and some have been caught as deep at 200m.
Japan is the world’s biggest producer of Seriola, but it is also farmed commercially in Australia, Europe and the U.S. This fish has become more popular as an aquaculture species over the last decade and is now farmed both at sea in cages, and in recirculating aquaculture systems (RAS) on land.
Japan is the largest producer of Yellowtail amberjack (Seriola lalandi), and accounts for nearly 90% of global yellowtail aquaculture production.
Impacts of farming seriola
Farming seriola can have many of the same impacts as other fish farming, and they are all addressed by the ASC standard. This ensures that the way in which fish are farmed has minimal impacts on the environment and local communities, and that high standards of fish welfare are maintained.
Here is a selection of the impacts that the ASC standard covers:
Producing a high quality seriola requires good quality water, and this is also a requirement of ASC certification. Water quality gives us a good idea of whether fish have the conditions they need to not just survive, but to live comfortably, and the level of dissolved oxygen is an especially good indicator of this. It is particularly important in land-based farms.
Other indicators can also be important, not only for seriola welfare, but also to ensure that the biodiversity of water around a cage farm is not impacted. As a result, ASC certified seriola farmers are required to measure various water parameters at regular intervals. They must also ensure that biological and non-biological waste is properly disposed of.
Seriola can be farmed both at sea and on land. Land-based Recirculating Aquaculture Systems (RAS) require a constant supply of fresh water. This could come from surface water, such as the sea and rivers, or groundwater, such as wells. The ASC seriola standard includes requirements for both, ensuring that farms minimise their impacts on these important water sources.
Escaped seriola could have a number of potential impacts: they could spread disease, compete with wild fish for habitat and food, or could affect the genetic make-up of wild populations through interbreeding. ASC certified seriola farms must put measures and effective management techniques in place that reduce the risk of escapes. This is one issue that land-based farms do not have to worry about.
Transparency and trust are also important, so farmers must regularly and accurately count their fish, and if escapes do occur, this information must be made publicly available. This not only helps to build trust with local communities and other stakeholders, but can also help to identify trends.
ASC certified seriola farms must work hard to maintain the health of their fish. Animal welfare is very important, and there are other reasons to keep fish healthy as well. Preventing disease is also vitally important to protect nearby wild populations. For this reason, comprehensive farm management plans are required, and must be regularly updated. They must cover issues including biosecurity, fish health plans, and crisis management.
The requirement to demonstrate that a farm is operated in a socially responsible manner isn’t specific to seriola, but it is still really important, and a mandatory part of all ASC standards. This means providing workers with proper health and safety training, and paying and treating them fairly. It also means being a good neighbour to any local communities, and proactively communicating with them.
Cooking with seriola
Seriola has a delicate taste, an attractive light pink/white fillet, and a nice firm bite, all of which lends it to multiple uses, from cold smoked to grilled, baked or raw. This fish also combines well with lots of different flavours, making it particularly versatile for chefs, and in the home kitchen.
Seriola is probably best known as a sushi and sashimi fish, that is very widely used in Japanese cuisine, but it is also popular in Mediterranean dishes.
Why not try a couple of our favourite recipes, and don’t forget to look out for the ASC logo when buying your fish!