A single bluefin tuna weighing 754 pounds has been sold for $396,000. This amount set the new record for most expensive fish. The price paid for the fish equals over $520 per pound. At some restaurants in Japan, bluefin tuna sushi can sell for $24 per piece.
The tuna was sold in the Tsukiji market in Tokyo, which is one of the largest seafood markets in the world. Over 400 types of seafood are sold there, and there are up to 60,000 employees.
Bluefin tuna have been so overfished due to demand for sushi, they are in a severe population decline and some believe they could go extinct fairly soon. They have yet to be declared an endangered species in the legal sense in the United States, but they are currently under review for that status.
While the United States is not the major market for bluefin tuna, as about 80 percent is bought and consumed in Japan, the Gulf of Mexico is a spawning ground, so protecting them in United States waters could at least offer support for their declining population. If you want to do something positive for bluefin tuna, you can avoid eating all tuna in sushi restaurants, because researchers found sometimes bluefin tuna is served even when other forms of tuna are ordered by restaurant patrons. In some cases even the restaurants don’t know exactly what they are serving.
If the conservation issues are not enough, consider the fact that research has shown tuna sushi has been found to contain high levels of mercury, which can cause brain damage. Even though bluefin tuna are very vulnerable right now, and you can see why with such an irrational and exuberant demand, the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas set their recommended catch limit at about the same as least year — 12,900 tons, down from 13,500 tons in 2010. ICCAT has been mocked for not standing up to the fishing industry with variations on their name, such as “International Conspiracy to Catch All Tuna.” So when you visit a sushi restaurant or a market selling tuna, just remember that you, and all the other consumers of the world, are the best chance for the bluefin tuna’s survival, based on informed personal choices.
Image Credit: Cafe Nervosa