Tripletail: The Fish of the Future

When inshore waters from Georgia around Florida to Texas’ Gulf Coast warm, dedicated anglers spend their days nosing their boats around crab pot buoys, pier pilings, and drifting brown sargassum gulfweed in search of the fish deemed the best tasting inshore fish in Florida, if not the nation: Tripletail (Lobotes surinamensis) also known to locals as “blackfish.”

The outstanding flavor of Tripletail and the devilish skill required to find and land them are the compelling reasons fishermen spend hours in pursuit of even a single fish. The initiated throughout the South say Tripletail far excels the high culinary praise given to grouper, snapper, and even pompano. But few seafood aficionados beyond the coastal South have ever heard of, much less ever tasted Tripletail.

Tripletail is a pelagic that prefers a solitary life unlike that of schooling species. The logistics of spending hours in search of barely a handful of fish negates the utility of a dedicated commercial fishery that if it existed would quickly decimate wild Tripletail stocks.

So how to provide the public with this premium, nutrient rich, culinary excellent fish without endangering its existence in Nature? That’s where Perciformes Group steps in.

Tripletail, named because its dorsal and anal fins are located in close proximity to its real tail, is one of the least researched and most intriguing marine species. To date, biologists must kill and autopsy each individual specimen simply to determine whether it’s a male or female.

Anglers and marine biologists alike find its unique life style both challenging and fascinating.

Tripletail are sedentary predators. They float motionless just beneath the surface with one side facing the sky mimicking a beefy flatfish. Juvenile Tripletail resemble floating leaves. As adults they lie in wait for a young crab or shrimp unaware that passing by what appears to be a castoff plastic bag, bit of driftwood floating by a barnacled piling, or an extension of a gulfweed mat will quickly turn them into the guileful fish’s next meal. Each Tripletail guise compounds the intrigue associated with the specie. Each carefully chosen hideout is a natural shelter or gathering place for maturing marine life.

The challenge to Perciformes’ marine biologists is how to determine if Tripletail is a suitable candidate for the company’s land-based recirculating aquaculture system (RAS). Toward that end, Perciformes entered into a public/private partnership with the University of Southern Mississippi’s Gulf Coast Research Lab (GCRL). This multi-year, million dollar plus project will investigate hatchery and grow out techniques to produce tripletail in a manner that meets all of the economic goals and environmental criteria set by Perciformes Group.

Will such a venture generate profits? Can it financially sustain an industry that generates well-paid jobs for employees and their families? Can it be done in an environmentally responsible manner? These Triple Bottom Line principles are the corporate mantra of Perciformes Group, its affiliates, and its parent company, Global Blue Technologies Inc. That’s Perciformes Group’s goal.

The culinary qualities of Tripletail, its unique taste and flaky white flesh, point to the high probability of generating strong market demand worldwide. In addition, that market is foreseen as an important step toward relieving the overfishing pressure plaguing species such as snapper and grouper.

Tripletail’s “lazy” life style of lurking motionless beneath the surface is key to its suitability as a cultured fish. That it expends little energy in the wild indicates that most feed for Tripletail raised in Perciformes’ tanks will be devoted to growth resulting in a low feed conversion ratio (fcr). That is an encouraging characteristic as feed is one of the most important cost factors in aquaculture.

The joint genetics research undertaken by Perciformes Group and GCRL will allow identification of characteristics for more efficient and greater bio-mass production of quality Tripletail under the RAS conditions without genetic modification.
Within the very near future and thanks to the hard work, dedication, and visionaries at Perciformes Group and GCRL, Tripletail will no longer be an elusive species available only to those living in Southern coastal environs. Rather, Tripletail will be on the menu in restaurants and households worldwide without any commercial fishing pressure on the species whatsoever.