Eat tuna with a clear conscience

As soon as you get off the underground at Düsseldorf University Hospital, you can smell the aroma of freshly fried tuna. However, if you follow your nose, you won't end up in the hospital canteen, but at SamaQ by ArabesQ, just 100 metres from the underground station. The main protagonist here: Tuna. And because it comes from sustainable aquaculture, the dishes are not only innovative, but also come with a clear conscience.

Fresh happy tuna over a plate - This image was created by an image generator with the help of artificial intelligence.

What´s all about?

  • Innovative tuna dishes at SamaQ by ArabesQ
  • Tuna is among the most popular edible fish
  • How nutritious is tuna?
  • Fish farming using sustainable aquaculture
  • Fish labels offer guidance to consumers

SamaQ by ArabesQ  – the name on the menu says it all. The Arabic word ‘samak’ means ‘fish’. But not just any fish – tuna in a range of variations. In pitta pockets, Arabian bowls or served with thyme bread – SamaQ in Düsseldorf is where Arab specialities meet tuna.

Innovative tuna dishes at SamaQ by ArabesQ

A restaurant specialising in tuna – whose idea was that? It was Dr Shukrallah Na’amnieh, owner-operator of the Düsseldorf restaurant ArabesQ, together with his colleagues from biotechnology company TunaTech . ‘I’m not just a restaurateur, I’m also a qualified biochemist specialising in enzyme development through molecular engineering and the synthesis of fine chemicals. I founded TunaTech in 2013 with Dr Stephan Schulz, Prof. Dr Christopher Bridges and Dr Florian Borutta. We are bound not only by our interest in sustainable fishing and aquaculture but also by our passion for food,’ explains Shukrallah Na’amnieh. In 2021, the four TunaTech founders came up with the idea of opening a restaurant. And this led to SamaQ by ArabesQ, where everything revolves around tuna. By the start of 2022, they were ready to open the doors at SamaQ by ArabesQ.

Despite the huge demand, tuna consumption isn’t unproblematic. Concerns include the possible contamination of the fish with heavy metals like mercury, the bycatching of dolphins etc. and the endangerment of some species of tuna through overfishing. ‘We are conscious of the problems associated with tuna fishing and we are absolutely against this type of fishing. This is why we founded TunaTech and we obtain our tuna from sustainable aquaculture. It means we can offer our guests all the enjoyment of tuna without the worry,’ says Borutta. Along with SamaQ, more and more consumers are seeing the value in sustainable tuna. In a 2023 Nutrition Report, 57% of respondents indicated that they look out for sustainable fish labels when they buy fish.

Fish farming using sustainable aquaculture

But to what extent does biotech company TunaTech represent sustainable tuna? The Düsseldorf start-up  builds and maintains aquacultures for hard-to-reproduce fish species like Atlantic bluefin tuna and yellowfin tuna. The fish they breed are then released into the sea. ‘In various research and industry projects, we have already been able to release hundreds of millions of artificially bred tuna into the sea   and make a contribution to environmentally-friendly aquaculture for the future,’ explains Stephan Schulz from TunaTech. By breeding fish in aquacultures, the biotech company contributes to meeting the demand for aquatic products and preventing the collapse of stocks of wild fish and other marine animals.

Fish DNA -  Editor's note: The images in this article were created by an image generator using Artificial Intelligence and edited by MPULSE Image Creation.
Fish DNA  / Editor's note: The images in this article were created by an image generator using Artificial Intelligence and edited by MPULSE Image Creation.

And how does breeding tuna in aquacultures work? ‘Getting the bluefin tuna to spawn is a huge challenge because they usually only do this in the wild,’ explains Schulz.  ‘For this reason, we have stimulation implants that contain a peptide that boosts the cascade of sexual hormones and encourages them to spawn.’ The implants are harmless to the tuna and have no effect on subsequent consumption as they break down completely within a few days. TunaTech also relies on DNA and protein-based testing procedures to stimulate bluefin tuna breeding. ‘To do this, we take tiny muscle samples from the tuna with special biopsy needles. We then use these for inbreeding analysis, as well as parenthood and gender tests,’ adds Christopher Bridges. When the mature fish are later caught, a DNA paternity test can show precisely whether they come from TunaTech.

How nutritious is tuna?

Many people love the taste of tuna. And the fish also contains several nutrients:

  • Tuna is a source of protein: With 21.5 g per 100 g (fresh and raw) or 23.8 g per 100 g (in cans and oil), tuna contains a great deal of valuable and easily digestible protein with vital amino acids.
  • Tuna contains long-chain Omega-3 fatty acids: Depending on the variant, tuna contains around 100 to 200 mg per 100 g of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and 25 to 27 mg per 100 g of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA).
  • Tuna is rich in Vitamin D: The vitamin D content varies depending on how it’s cooked but is usually between 3 and 5 micrograms per 100 g of tuna.
  • Tuna is especially rich in zinc: 100 g of tuna contains 0.08 milligrams of zinc. Tuna is also a source of calcium, iron, copper, iodine and selenium.

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Fish labels offer guidance

How do restaurateurs know they can buy and offer tuna with a clear conscience? Fish labels are one example of the guidance that identifies sustainable tuna.

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