Bluefin Tuna - What Is The True Cost?


Share this Post

Bluefin are the largest tuna species usually living up to 40 years with an average weight of 500 lbs., but have been recorded at up to 2,000 lbs. There are three species of Bluefin: Atlantic (the largest and most endangered), Pacific, and Southern.

The Atlantic Bluefin tuna has been facing severe extinction due to overfishing, and well, gluttony. The other species are also in decline.

"The population has effectively been decimated," said Amanda Nickson, director for global tuna conservation for The Pew Environment Group. "Over 90 percent of bluefin tuna are caught before they reach reproductive age. You have to wonder if this remotely sustainable."

So far, governments and management bodies have failed to take measures to protect the species that reflect the seriousness of its decline, she said.

High-end sushi markets are another big part of their disappearing numbers and the Japanese eat about 80 percent of all Bluefin tuna caught worldwide.

Illegal fishing of Atlantic Bluefin is the biggest problem in their population drop - and the lack of control or enforcement necessary to stop their serious decline.

And as a general rule with anything rare or endangered - greed stepped up with a focus on profit - to grab up the biggest percentage of the highly sought after Bluefin. Mitsubushi, a huge Japanese conglomerate, bought up tons of tuna to freeze and store so that when extinction was on the horizon they could jack the prices up and make a killing.

According to The Independent, they have cornered a 40 percent share of the world market in Bluefin tuna.

However, apparently fate stepped in to foil that greed - after the earthquake and subsequent tsunami, the freezers lost power and the thousands of tons of tuna stored in them was ruined. What is most devastating is the waste coupled with the fear of their extinction looming that has companies such as Tri Marine International requesting immediate and urgent control over Bluefin overfishing.

In the documentary film The End of the Line, Roberto Mielgo, a former Bluefin fisherman who travels the world monitoring catches, claims that Mitsubishi buys and sells 60 per cent of the threatened fish and that it has expanded its freezer capacity to hold extra Bluefin.

Mitsubishi admits that it freezes Bluefin, but only, it says, to even out peaks and troughs in supply.

"Mitsubishi Corporation handles between 35 per cent and 40 per cent of Atlantic and Mediterranean Bluefin tuna imported to Japan," the company told The Independent.

"As we explicitly explained to the makers of the film, the fishing season for Bluefin tuna in the Mediterranean is very short, making it necessary to freeze tuna to provide customers with stable supplies throughout the year.

The film also reminds viewers that if better control is not put into place immediately, not only will Bluefin tuna become extinct - but all fish in our oceans.

Image via YouTube