Researchers in Japan see hope in method to breed hard-to-farm squid

Researchers in Japan say they have successfully developed an aquaculture system for squid, which is a healthy food source for fish-loving Japan but notoriously hard to breed.

A group at the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University says its aquaculture technique has the potential to be commercialized.

Researchers around the world have been trying to farm squid since the 1960s with little success. That's due to the animal's aggressive trait, its strong preference for live bait and sensitivity to changes in water conditions.

The Okinawa group began its research in 2017 using a species known as oval squid, which lives off the coast of the southern Japanese prefecture.

It reared the squid from the hatchling stage to become accustomed to non-live bait, and carefully adjusted feed types and water tank sizes to reduce stress as it grew.

The group says the effort paid off, with the 90-day survival rate improved from several percent to 90 percent or higher. It says the squid has been stably bred over 10 generations without any genetic problems.

Around 450 types of squid are said to exist around the world. But the researchers say all the species of squid in Japan's waters have been declining since the 1980s. Catch volume has plunged to about 10 percent of the peak level, and prices are rising.

Researcher Nakajima Ryuta believes the aquaculture method can be applied to other types of squid. He says the group hopes to obtain a patent early next year, and work with businesses to commercialize the technology.