Born Free USA Canadian Blog
by Barry Kent MacKay
28 Apr 2017
How bad does it have to get before sanity dictates action? For every 100 Pacific Bluefin tuna who were in the ocean at one time, there are only about two-and-a-half left! Certain ideologues continue to claim that the value of living resources, such as ivory, big game species, timber, or Bluefin tuna, guarantee their protection. But, the situation with species of wild fauna and flora with high commercial value too often illustrates the reverse… and none more so than the Pacific Bluefin tuna.
Members of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission, including Japan, agreed to significantly reduce their catch of young Bluefins weighing under 30 kg (66 pounds), giving them a chance to breed and to thus contribute to restoration of the severely depleted population. However, The Guardian reported that Japan will reach its quota two months early, but with no sign that the fishing for Pacific Bluefins will end for the year.
In theory, if every fishing nation were to stick to the quotas assigned, the numbers of Pacific Bluefin tuna could build up to 20% of their historically high levels by about 2034. But, key to it all is Japan, which consumes about 80% of all Pacific Bluefin tuna captured by commercial fishers.
The problem is greed. Even a tiny piece of prime tuna flesh, called otoro, when consumed as sushi in a high-end Tokyo eatery, can cost more than I’d pay for a week of restaurant meals in Canada. A few years ago, a single 489-pound fish sold for $1.76 million. While that had more to do with generating interest in sushi than real value, in fact, even at modest prices, one fish can cost tens of thousands of dollars.
Ironically, the most prized of the three species of Bluefin tuna could soon reach “commercial extinction,” whereby no matter how high the price, not enough can be caught to cover fishing costs. Actual extinction could soon follow. Forever after, the nation with the biggest craving for Pacific Bluefin tuna would have none—nor would the oceans hold one of the most magnificent and beautiful of our world’s rapidly diminishing list of species.