The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
How Eating Sushi Endangers the Survival of the Atlantic Bluefin Tuna
The giant Atlantic bluefin tuna is praised for its size (bigger than a horse), its longetevity (it can live to 30) and its speed (faster than a Porsche). The Atlantic bluefin is also one of the most commercially valuable species of fish on Earth. Fetching $200/lb on the dock, a mature bluefin can be worth as much as $200,000.
Known as the “cocaine of the seas,” the species have been over fished to the point of endangerment. The Atlantic bluefin lived sustainably in the Mediterranean Sea for generations, but the boom of the luxury sushi and sashimi market in the 70s and 80s put the fish on the world's most wanted list. With the development of tuna farms (essentially fattening pens), bluefins became available outside the luxury goods market in the 90s. Soaring demand has caused an 85 percent decline in the population.
The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) is at the forefront of the struggle to save the Atlantic bluefins. Its Mediterranean tagging missions track population changes and migration patterns. The WWF commissioned the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) to implement a fishing capacity reduction plan, mandate that tuna farms record the sizes of their wild harvests for ICCAT assessment and investigate international trade data. Despite 40 years of these efforts, the bluefin population has continued to plummet. Last month, a WWF report uncovered a massive unreported trade via Panama that has been going on for decades. The report revealed that between 2000 and 2010, the equivalent of 18,704 tons of live bluefin tuna were traded via Panama without being reported to the ICCAT.
Fortunately, yesterday in Morocco, at their annual meeting, the ICCAT reported some good news—tuna stocks have shown some signs of recovery. Despite this news, the Atlantic bluefin tuna continues to be the most overly and illegally fished species on our planet.
You might be wondering what you can do on the individual level for the Atlantic bluefin Tuna while the WWF continues to fight against the widespread pirate fishing that represents the principle peril to the bluefin tuna’s continued existence.
For one thing, you can choose to boycott Atlantic bluefin tuna that has been caught illegally. Unfortunately, it's impossible to tell how the tuna was caught or whether it came from a juvenile. However, if you cannot avoid tuna altogether, the WWF has a few tips. When ordering tuna sushi or sashimi, ask your restaurateur where the fish was caught. If it was caught in the Mediterranean, the WWF advises against ordering it. At the fish market or the supermarket, ask the fishmonger if they are selling Atlantic bluefin tuna that comes from the Mediterranean. If so, don’t buy it. As for canned tuna, it is very unlikely to be Atlantic bluefin tuna.
Visit EcoWatch’s BIODIVERSITY pages for more related news on this topic.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
A dire new report issued by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) found that the climate crisis is on a worrying trajectory as the crisis's hallmarks — sea level rise, ice loss and extreme weather — all increased over the last five years, which will end as the warmest five-year period on record.
By Peter Gleick
War is a miserable thing. It kills and maims soldiers and civilians. It destroys infrastructure, cultures and communities. It worsens poverty and development challenges. And it damages and cripples vital ecological and environmental resources.
Hundreds of activists gathered in the Swiss Alps on Sunday to mourn the loss of Pizol, a glacier that has steadily retreated over the last decade as temperatures have warmed the mountain tops, according to CNN.
Vice President Mike Pence sparked outrage on social media Saturday when he traveled in the first-ever motorcade to drive down the streets of Michigan's car-free Mackinac Island, HuffPost reported.
By Shawn Radcliffe
- As illnesses and deaths linked to vaping continue to rise, health officials urge people to stop using e-cigarettes.
- Officials report 8 deaths have been linked to lung illnesses related to vaping.
- Vitamin E acetate is one compound officials are investigating as a potential cause for the outbreak.
By Julia Conley
As organizers behind Friday's Global Climate Strike reported that four million children and adults attended marches and rallies all over the world — making it the biggest climate protest ever — they assured leaders who have been reticent to take bold climate action that the campaigners' work is far from over.