Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

New TV Show 'Wicked Tuna' Trivializes Plight of Bluefin Tuna

Center for Biological Diversity

A new National Geographic Channel show, Wicked Tuna, focuses on a group of fishermen trying to catch one of ocean’s most majestic and imperiled fish, the bluefin tuna. The program comes at a time when key fisheries for bluefin tuna—highly migratory, warm-blooded ocean predators that weigh up to 1,500 pounds and reach 13 feet in length—are threatening to collapse under the weight of overfishing.

 

The show premiers this weekend, and though it does pay brief lip-service to the plight of the bluefin tuna, its focus is on the thrill of the chase for these increasingly severely threatened animals. Dwindling bluefin populations represent big money for the fishing industry: One extraordinary fish sold this year for $736,000.

“Bluefin tuna has been called ‘cocaine of the seas’ because of the astronomical prices it fetches as luxury sushi. Its economic value should encourage us to save the species to sustain tuna fisheries into the future. Instead, we’re seeing places like the National Geographic Channel buy into bluefin fever, glorifying the chase for one of the most troubled fish on the planet,” said Catherine Kilduff of the Center for Biological Diversity, which launched a U.S. boycott of bluefin tuna in 2010 following dramatic declines in its populations.

Western Atlantic bluefin tuna, which spawns in the Gulf of Mexico, have been reduced to 17 percent of 1950 levels. The National Marine Fisheries Service in June 2011 listed the bluefin tuna as a “species of concern” after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill but refused to protect the fish under the Endangered Species Act.

Despite declines, bluefin tuna remain a top-dollar item at many sushi restaurants in the U.S. and on the international market. Wicked Tuna’s fishermen hope to sell each fish caught for about $10,000.

“Bluefin tuna need help, not a TV show glorifying the hunt for them,” Kilduff said. “If we keep going down this road, these fish face the very real prospect of extinction, and one of the mightiest fish ever to swim the oceans will be gone forever.”

Atlantic bluefin tuna (Thunnus thynnus) are capable of swimming more than 55 mph; they include two genetically distinct populations, one that spawns in the Mediterranean (the “eastern Atlantic” stock) and a much smaller population that spawns in the Gulf of Mexico (the “western Atlantic” stock). Bluefin tuna are threatened by overfishing, capture for tuna ranches and changing ocean and climate conditions.

Nearly 40,000 people have joined the Center’s bluefin boycott campaign and pledged not to eat at restaurants serving bluefin tuna. Dozens of chefs and owners of seafood and sushi restaurants have pledged not to sell bluefin.

For more information about the Center’s campaign to save the Atlantic bluefin tuna, click here.

For more information, click here.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

A protest against the name of the Washington Redskins in Minneapolis, Minnesota on Nov. 2, 2014. Fibonacci Blue / CC BY 2.0

The Washington Redskins will retire their controversial name and logo, the National Football League (NFL) team announced Monday.

Read More Show Less
The survival tools northern fish have used for millennia could be a disadvantage as environmental conditions warm and more fast-paced species move in. Istvan Banyai / Wikimedia Commons / CC by 3.0

By Alyssa Murdoch, Chrystal Mantyka-Pringle and Sapna Sharma

Summer has finally arrived in the northern reaches of Canada and Alaska, liberating hundreds of thousands of northern stream fish from their wintering habitats.

Read More Show Less
A mother walks her children through a fountain on a warm summer day on July 12, 2020 in Hoboken, New Jersey. Gary Hershorn / Getty Images

A heat wave that set in over the South and Southwest left much of the U.S. blanketed in record-breaking triple digit temperatures over the weekend. The widespread and intense heat wave will last for weeks, making the magnitude and duration of its heat impressive, according to The Washington Post.

Read More Show Less
If you get a call from a number you don't recognize, don't hit decline — it might be a contact tracer calling to let you know that someone you've been near has tested positive for the coronavirus. blackCAT / Getty Images

By Joni Sweet

If you get a call from a number you don't recognize, don't hit decline — it might be a contact tracer calling to let you know that someone you've been near has tested positive for the coronavirus.

Read More Show Less
Aerial view of burnt areas of the Amazon rainforest, near Porto Velho, Rondonia state, Brazil, on Aug. 24, 2019. CARLOS FABAL / AFP via Getty Images

NASA scientists say that warmer than average surface sea temperatures in the North Atlantic raise the concern for a more active hurricane season, as well as for wildfires in the Amazon thousands of miles away, according to Newsweek.

Read More Show Less
A baby receives limited treatment at a hospital in Yemen on June 27, 2020. Mohammed Hamoud / Anadolu Agency / Getty Images

By Andrea Germanos

Oxfam International warned Thursday that up to 12,000 people could die each day by the end of the year as a result of hunger linked to the coronavirus pandemic—a daily death toll surpassing the daily mortality rate from Covid-19 itself.

Read More Show Less

Trending

The 2006 oil spill was the largest incident in Philippine history and damaged 1,600 acres of mangrove forests. Shubert Ciencia / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

By Jun N. Aguirre

An oil spill on July 3 threatens a mangrove forest on the Philippine island of Guimaras, an area only just recovering from the country's largest spill in 2006.

Read More Show Less