Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Bluefin Tuna on the Brink

Anyone who's ever indulged in sushi, myself included, has probably sampled the bluefin tuna. Most people are totally unaware at how close we are to losing this fish forever, and that's exactly the problem.

I first heard about the serious decline in Atlantic bluefins, 97% since 1960, just a couple of years ago when I was on vacation. The sushi bar I was dining at didn't have any tuna, since the price has gone through the roof. In fact, the more highly prized Pacific bluefin can now go for over $100,000. Since that time, I've stayed away from the tuna altogether.

What's most troubling to me is the most recent meeting of CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species [of Wild Fauna and Flora]), where they voted against a ban on the bluefin. I first heard about this on the news, and read more about it in the blog linked above. Apparently, the enormous demand in Japan (where a few friendly folks still hunt whales) has created enough opposition to stop the ban.

Apparently this is our stance: Economy > Environment

Seriously, it's not like we depend on the Earth or anything. Ecosystems are definitely not fragile.
You're detecting a bit of sarcasm, I know.

What does everyone else think? The bluefin tuna in one step away from being extinct in the wild. Don't you think we would have done something already if this was an animal that wasn't tasty? I'm far from vegetarian, but we have to draw a line somewhere.

Posted by Andrew King (8)


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. I totaly agree with you. It is amazing how we never get enough of anything, we have so much varieties I think we can protect this species from going extingct by chosing from other things. I agree there should be a barn against blue fintuna.

    Posted by Anna Moreno

  3. I also think it is ridiculous that the blufin tuna is basically going extinct and we are doing nothing about it but eating more of the tuna. I'm actually kind of shocked because i thought organizations were really strict on protecting the wildlife environment but i guess economy and making money, like you said, is more important.

    Posted by Kayla Perry

  4. This is pretty upsetting. I wonder, if there isn't a way to ban exportation of the bluefin tuna to Japan, is there a way to raise the expense of the fish, similar to the cost of the bluefin here in America? Doing so may also decrease the number of bluefins being consumed, allowing the fish population time to increase to a level above being endangered.

    Posted by Vinh Tran

  5. I can see why Japan would still demand such a precious commodity but what's confusing me is why no one is looking to solve the problem through farming. Creating tuna farms would be a great way to keep some in captivity while placing a ban on hunting wild ones and placing a heavy fine on those that do. I know that this opens the door for monopolies to try and control tuna supplies but at this point its better than just freely grabbing as many tuna as one can and not doing anything to repopulate them. You would think that regulations would have been in place by now to at least control the amount of fishing one can do at a time.

    Posted by Charly Almonte

  6. Unfortunately I think that the general consensus is economy>environment, and that the case of the bluefin tuna is one of many. Although most of the world agrees that numerous environmental problems exist, few countries are willing to sacrifice individual wealth to help the environment. When this concept meets the global demand for the tasty fish, the future of the bluefin tuna becomes questionable.

    Not all is lost though. A few environmental issues have been aided by the linking of the issue to the economy. For example, the Carbon credit system financially punishes those who produce more Carbon than permitted. The reason these systems work is because they tap into what most people really care about; their money. If a high tax was placed on the fish, maybe less people would buy it. Or maybe financial benefits can be awarded to those who help the cause. These methods, however, require a lot of time; something the bluefin tuna is running out of.

    Posted by Matt Grazewski

  7. I am very surprised that we have let it come to this point. I agree with Kayla because I thought there were organizations that monitored populations of species. It is unresponsible on our part that the population of this fish are being depleted for our food when there are so many other options. I know in nature your either strong enough to survive or your the one that eaten but it's an abuse of our power to kill off the whole population if it's not our only option for survival.
    -Valerie Silva-

  8. I think everyone brought up great points. There are many things that can be done to solve this issue, but only if people care enough.

    Now, to answer a couple things. The rising price of the tuna is occurring everywhere, and it is doing nothing to combat its consumption. The tuna that were going for over 100K was actually in Japan, so they're not being persuaded by prices.

    Farming the tuna is not a valid option, though it would be nice. The tuna is a large, powerful, muscular fish. This is why it is so prized. But it also means that the tuna needs expansive open ocean.

    Posted by Andrew King

  9. That is horrible. I'm actually a huge fan of sushi but reading about Bluefin tuna is giving me second thoughts.

    Surprising, I had sushi couple nights ago in Northhampton and they had tuna there. I wonder if it was different type of tuna.

    Posted by Minwoo Ji