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Bluefin tuna - the end?

By JW Dowey - 22 Aug 2013 12:2:45 GMT
Bluefin tuna - the end?

The Mediterranea/Sicilian fishing method is to trap the wild Bluefin in nets and maintain them in a tonnara. This group consist of some very large animals that would fetch equally amazing prices in Japan; Bluefin image; Credit: © Shutterstock

We are seeing a belated attempt by governments to save the bluefin tuna, Thunnus thynnus. When the Centre for Biological Diversity previously tried to list the species as endangered, the reason given was the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The real losses come from their use as sushi, their high prices and therefore a vast and worldwide network of fishermen who are simply greedy.

The history of this demise of a great fish is tragic. When the Mediterranean population was almost wiped out, Italian fishermen and others continued the ancient tradition of corralling and later "slaughtering" them, having matured in literal captivity. The Pacific decline followed that example with a 96.4 % decrease from the population when it was not fished. It was 2012 before limits were imposed, and only in the eastern Pacific.

These fish can move fast! They maintain a high body temperature in their 10 foot (3m) bodies that enables their distinctive voyages across the oceans at 50 mph (80kmh) as top predators and cooperative hunters. So the eastern Pacific matters little to them.

IUCN have both southern and W. Atlantic bluefin populations as endangered and critically endangered, respectively. The US government need to pay attention to their responsibilities, after the oil spills wiped out 20% of juveniles in the Caribbean. Their rebuilding program over the last 20 years for the western Atlantic Bluefin resulted in a 70% decline, partly because they are now caught for the Mediterranean-style "fish-farming. It ain't farming guys, when you have to catch wild fish!

The prospects are poor, the governments are ineffective and the extinction of a precious ocean marvel is imminent. We have to do something, so stop eating the relevant material. Restaurants can start placing posters to assure they won't use tuna, but the only safe path now is to ban all tuna, slowly but surely and very carefully and diplomatically, as many species are now approaching the same fate as the Bluefin. If it's pricey, don't eat it!

The Center for Biological Diversity publish their last-minute appeal as the document Bluefin Boycott.