10 April 2019
In 2009 the 500-year-old Italian tuna festival was cancelled due to a lack of fish.
In 2010 the UN rejected a US backed effort to impose a total ban on Atlantic bluefin
tuna fishing and trading.
Last year a sushi restaurant owner paid $1.76 million for a 489Ib Pacific bluefin, the
most expensive fish ever sold.
The species of bluefin tuna most endangered are the Atlantic and the Pacific bluefin.
According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization they are victims of rampant over- fishing and weak international regulations. Some research by marine conservationists indicates that the bluefin population is about 15% of its historic baseline and that this figure is probably too rosy; where once 100 fish survived, only 3 remain.
Bluefin tuna are top predators: they are twice the size of a lion, hunt by sight, are faster than a gazelle and, given the chance, can live more than thirty years. Both the Atlantic and Pacific bluefin migrate over huge distances. The Pacific bluefin makes an epic journey from its birthplace around Japan to the coast of California where it spends several years before returning. The Atlantic bluefin moves across the entire Atlantic Ocean to North America and back in a single year and apart from that, we know very little about them.
The huge price the fish commands gives fishermen the message that violating the quota is a risk worth taking and now the illegal Bluefin market is worth 12 million euros a year. The Atlantic bluefin tuna seems to be making a comeback in British waters and has been seen in quite big numbers but the predators are circling. Already there are discussions about exploiting the fish again commercially.
In February 2019 the Blue Planet Society has just launched its ‘Protect Bluefin Tuna’campaign and is urging the public to sign the change.org petition or write to Michael Gove.
End of the line? Not yet, I hope.
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