Bluefin Tuna in Danger

by Kyle Laszlo

The Bluefin tuna has been prized by sushi lovers, specifically sashimi aficionados, because of its delicious taste in its raw state (sashimi is served raw). The problem is that the Bluefin has been so overfished in order to keep up with the demands of sushi restaurants all over the world that the population of Bluefin has been dwindling with no chance to rebound. The continent that consumes the most Bluefin is currently Asia, especially the country of Japan. At this point in time, it is on the endangered species list and in response some trade bans have been put into action in order to help save the declining population.

There have been many ideas passed around in attempt to keep not only the environmentalista and scientists, but also the fishermen whose livelihood and families depend on the income they bring in by fishing for the Bluefin, happy. One such idea is farm raising the Bluefin, much like they do with Salmon in Oregon. The problem with this is that the Bluefin have a very large appetite for various smaller sea creatures and require a much bigger area in which to feed. It is also believed that their ability to reach upwards of 70 mph in the ocean also helps them become bigger, stronger, and healthier fish. Another issue is that typically those fish caught for farming purposes are ones who would eventually spawn to help grow the population and are captured and later consumed. Currently farmers have had trouble getting captive Bluefin tuna to spawn.

Scientists are calling for a complete ban of Bluefin tuna in order to help the population reach safe levels once again and keep them from extinction. Many environmental agencies are pushing for this ban as well, such as the World Wildlife Fund and Greenpeace. The average life span of a Bluefin tuna is 15 years, making the time for them to reproduce to levels that keep them off of the endangered species list a lengthy wait. Are fisherman willing to wait for the species to grow in numbers or will we see an increase in illegal fishing?

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