Fuentes is born: the excellence of Bluefin Tuna


Where do you imagine the world leader of the bluefin tuna industry is to be found? Somewhere on the coastline of the Orient or the cold North Atlantic, or perhaps some exotic setting on the Pacific, right? Far from it. This illustrious and outstanding company is based in Cartagena… with its corporate headquarters in a town that is not even on the shoreline.

And did you know that the origins of this company date back to a visionary entrepreneur who sold fish from a cart, and then began preparing exquisite salted produce in his garage at home? The striking story of the company Ricardo Fuentes e Hijos presents an intriguing narrative of unstoppable growth, rooted in a culture of hard work.

We are the Bluefin Tuna family

The milestones along this commercial journey would provide more than enough material to fill several documentaries. Of biology. Of enterprise culture. Of the kind of model for success that they teach in business school. Today the company stands at the summit, while constantly improving, looking back over sepia-tinted images of Spain as it strove to embrace modernity and shake off the complexes of the past.

Tuna being butchered at the FUENTES premises in Cartagena, Murcia (Spain)

Back when just a few construction cranes could be seen around the Mar Menor, and before the restaurants started translating their menus into English, a young man from La Palma was making a name and a few hard-earned pesetas for himself, selling fresh fish from a cart. At dawn. Calling out his wares. By the sweat of his brow. In the afternoon, he smothered all he had not sold in salt from Torrevieja and San Pedro to be dried in the sun of the courtyard or in his garage at home. He masterfully salted mackerel, bonito, cod, tuna, mako shark fillets… achieving a rare perfection in a technique dating back millennia, and laying the foundations for a company whose heart and soul are wedded to the ocean.

That man was Ricardo Fuentes Herrero, and half a century later, his six children have continued and expanded his legacy. A commercial and corporate story that tells of a policy of hard work and expansion, the cornerstone of which is bluefin tuna, that prized fish with the body of a Titan concealing the succulence within.

Few people realise that the heirs of that same visionary are today at the helm of the world’s largest exporter of this particular member of the Scombridae family. None other can surpass it. Ricardo Fuentes e Hijos sells 15,000 tonnes of bluefin tuna every year, across the Mediterranean and the Atlantic, with traditional almadraba nets in Morocco and Barbate, hatcheries in Cartagena and San Pedro del Pinatar in Murcia, Tunisia and Malta. It sells to 12 companies in Japan, three in Korea and two in China.

FUENTES is born. The Bluefin Tuna brand.

And now the time has come to take a further step. The Fuentes hallmark is born. Pure and simple. Nothing more to it. Only bluefin tuna. Bluefin tuna. Fresh and deep frozen below 60 degrees centigrade. Tuna, which as over the last 40 years (strangely enough, the oldest age that Thunnus thynnus, as Linnaeus named it, can live to), will continue to nourish the demanding tastebuds of the Land of the Rising Sun, while also finding its place among the Meccas of haute cuisine, both here and abroad. Loin, belly, noten, hoho-niku, back cheek… A culinary vocation of excellence and essence, with no shortcuts and with a wealth of expertise held in store.

No one understands the ever-changing and volatile market better than Fuentes, as well as the demanding level required to play in the global top flight for tuna. This is its founding manifesto, based on four decades of recollection, progress and innovation, at all times respecting the cycles and timings of the natural world.

Just like the Atlantic tuna, which swims constantly, Fuentes never rests. With a fleet of two tuna seiners, the Panchilleta and Elorz, fishing the Mediterranean, and two freezer ships to process and transport the catch, the Princesa de Guasimara and the Paloma Reefer, the company is ready to broaden its horizons. And so here begins a logbook recording this era with one clear and inspiring goal: to extend and present to a wider audience the finer points of the bluefin tuna. This blog will serve as the bridge of the ship, exploring biology and species, fishing techniques and life on board, the future of aquaculture fish farms, different cuts and culinary destinations, alongside many other aspects.

And as the helmsman of this newly launched ship we have Hiroshi Umi, with his exotic prose. Born in Osaka but settled in Spain, this tuna sensei (wise man) and culinary critic will be the centrepiece, the vehicle, the narrative lodestone unravelling the fascinating world of the kuro maguro through this site. Anchors away. Welcome to Fuentes.