Bluefin Tuna Denied Endangered Species Protection
Despite the fact that Atlantic Bluefin Tuna have declined by about eighty percent, the National Marine Fisheries Service denied protecting the overhunted species protection under the Endangered Species Act. Bluefin tuna is very popular with consumers for its meat–especially in sushi restaurants. “The Obama administration today turned a blind eye to the staggering declines of Atlantic bluefin tuna in recent years said Catherine Kilduf,” an attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity. (Source: Center for Biological Diversity)
Bluefin tuna are so overfished boycotts have been begun to try and help them recover. The Center for Biological Diversity has both an online pledge and petition people can sign to assist them. Some celebrities tried to get involved by boycotting the the expensive Japanese restaurant chain Nobu, but most of the Japan for bluefin tuna is in Japan. For example, a single bluefin there sold for $396,000.
Atlantic bluefin used the Gulf of Mexico for the spawning grounds, an area that was negatively impacted by the Gulf oil disaster last Spring. In fact Spring is the time when the very large, fast fish return there for spawning. Because of the dramatic drop in the size of their population, reproducing is even more critical if the species is going to survive.
When the oil disaster was at its worst, Stanford biologist Barbara Block said, “There is a lot of focus on the Louisiana shoreline, but this is America’s greatest fisheries nursery, and we’ve got to pay attention to what’s going on immediately.” (Source: Aolnews.com)
An estimated 20 percent of juvenile tuna in the area were wiped out by the oil disaster. Additionally about 11,000 metric tons of bluefin are killed accidentally when they are caught during expeditions seeking other fish such as yellowfin tuna and swordfish.
Since the US government has failed to protect bluefin tuna, the Sea Sheperd Society is trying to do it by traveling to the waters off Libya to prevent illegal killing of bluefin. Captain Paul Watson said they freed 800 of them last year there.
Image Credit: Osaka Museum