Cobia is a relative newcomer to the U.S. market, with limited distribution from a handful of aquaculture operations. However, proponents of cobia farming believe it could be the next tilapia, though with more character and upscale appeal. The species is a proven candidate for aquaculture, as it adapts well to a farm environment and reaches market size of around 11 pounds in less than a year. Limited availability from the wild is also sparking interest in aquaculture; cobia are not targeted by commercial fishermen and are landed just as bycatch. In the wild, cobia can reach more than 6 feet and 150 pounds and are a popular gamefish. They are found worldwide in tropical, subtropical and temperate waters, except the eastern Pacific. China is the leading producer of farmed cobia. Farmed production elsewhere is in a developmental stage, but global production is expected to expand in the future. A U.S. freshwater facility in Virginia is marketing farmed cobia, and ocean-cage operations are under way in Puerto Rico, the Bahamas, Vietnam and Central America.
Images and data provided by SeafoodSource. To view the entire Seafood Handbook, visit SeafoodSource.com.