Thursday, March 18, 2010

Ban Rejected by UN

By Jennifer Winward

The fight for saving the bluefin tuna has just suffered a major setback.  Today the U.N. voted against a ban on the export of bluefin tuna in a U.N. wildlife meeting.  The main reason that many countries failed to support the ban was the effect it would have on the fishing economies.  At this meeting only the United States, Kenya, and Norway were in full support of the ban.  Although the ban failed, some countries agreed that rebuilding the bluefin population was important.  Japan even said that they would be willing to reduce their fishing quotas.

The problem is that we need to come up with a solution that can benefit everyone.  People need to make a living and some of those people rely on fishing to support their families.  More legislation needs to be put in place to regulate fishing and reward those who practice fair and responsible fishing methods.  There are many Americans who love eating sushi and other seafood dishes, so we might not be able to ban the export of bluefin tuna altogether, but we can slowly make small changes that add up to a big difference. And one small thing that you can do is become educated on what you are eating.  Check out the Seafood Guide, found at, which shows you the fish that are threatened by overfishing.  By making smart meal choices you can help save an endangered species!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Top Ten Fish Crisis Facts

A few facts about non sustainable fishing.

By: Richard Dickey

1. The World Wildlife Fund reports as many as 90 per cent of all the ocean's large fish have been fished out. If we fail to change large-scale fishing practices now, it is estimated that stocks of all the fish we eat will have crashed by 2048.

2. Bluefin tuna is classified as endangered, at the same level of threat as the giant panda. Despite this, it still appears on the menu of the world's most exclusive restaurants.

3. In 2006, the annual quota of bluefin tuna permitted to be caught was 32,000 tons. According to the World Wildlife Fund, an advisory board of scientists recommended the 2007 catch should be reduced to 15,000 tons to prevent collapse. Instead, the EU set a quota of 29,500 tons. With illegal fishing, the actual amount of bluefin caught in 2007 was estimated to be 50,000 tons.

4. Illegal fishing is estimated to be worth $9 billion per year.

5. Fishermen had been landing cod from Newfoundland since the Middle Ages. By 1992, the cod stock had crashed and cod fishing was immediately banned. 40,000 people lost their jobs overnight. Stocks have still not recovered.

6. A report by the House of Lords declared 50 per cent of cod caught North Sea to be stolen. To put it another way, every other portion of cod you eat has potentially come from an illegal fish supply.

7. The mouth of the largest trawling net used to catch fish is big enough to contain 13 Boeing 747 airplanes.

8. 7 million tons of fish are wasted every year due to large-scale fishing techniques. This amounts to one tenth of the world's catch. Dolphins, turtles and sea birds are also caught up and killed in the huge trawling nets.

9. Fish farming, or 'aquaculture', uses more fish than it produces. 5kg of anchovies are required to farm 1kg of salmon. It would be a better use of the world's fish resources to simply eat the anchovies.

10. A Greenpeace report recommends 40 per cent of the world's oceans should be made into nature reserves, to allow fish stocks to recover.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Breeding Bluefin Tuna.

We’ve managed to raise and breed salmon, catfish and other small fish in commercial fish farms.  Experts say that breeding the bluefin tuna outside their natural habit is difficult and will require more time and research.  These tuna can take up to 12 years to reach sexual maturity compare to 3 years for catfish.  There’s a lot of research and schools that are spending time trying to find the solution that would allow bluefin tuna to reproduce at a younger age which has been the main problem when it comes to reproducing them.  Japan has been the leader on trying to make breeding happen in captivity for the bluefin tuna but thirty years have passed and yet hardly any progress has been made.  Captive breeders were able to produced fish that laid eggs but not consistently. Some scientists are skeptical that breeding these fish won’t happen not for another 10 years.  Then you have the environmentalists saying the breeding efforts have so far been a distraction.  That money has been thrown into research but without any huge advancement. Saying the real problem has been the overfishing of the bluefin tuna.  Overfishing has been the root problem in the declining population of the bluefin tuna.   It’s getting so bad that some commercial operations have been using planes to track schools of tuna but even then are still having a hard time finding them. Restricting the amount of tuna that can be fished is the only real solution until scientist can come up with a way to successfully find a way in breeding them in captivity.

Post by: Alfonso C III

For more on the breeding of tuna, visit the link below.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Aquaculture: Who, What, Why and Why Not?

           As the world’s fisheries quickly diminish, several countries are looking to alternatives such as aquaculture to keep fish on their plates. Aquaculture is defined as “the cultivation of aquatic animals and plants, esp. fish, shellfish, and seaweed, in natural or controlled marine or freshwater environments; underwater agriculture.” Several countries including the United States, Japan and India to name a few, currently farm fish such as salmon and bluefin tuna.
            Fish are often caught in the ocean while still relatively young and small and brought to farms where they will be “fattened up.” They can also be raised from hatched eggs. The farms can consist of ponds or lakes as well as cages placed in the ocean or rivers. Many feel that farming fish in this manner will help alleviate the strain on the wild population, which is currently being intensely overfished.
           There are many criticisms for the farming fish such as the bluefin. The number of fish caught for fish farming may not be counted in the quotas placed on the fishing industries. This means that many more fish are being removed from the world’s fisheries than sustainably possible. Because fish like salmon and the bluefin tuna are very large and carnivorous, they require a large amount of fish for food. These feeder fish must be caught or raised as well, which raises questions about the sustainability of fish farming itself. In addition, farmed fish are often kept in tight quarters with one another, which can lead to parasites, infections and tissue damage. If the fish are kept in an open ocean environment, they may also transfer the infections to the wild populations. Antibiotics may be used to treat the fish but this means the drugs may be passed on to the person who sits down to enjoy a sushi dinner. Breeding is not met with good results as the bluefin prefer their natural habitat for breeding.
It seems that there are no shortcuts we can take here. The true way to save our world’s fisheries is to recognize the need to do so and change our fishing practices.


Species that have gone extinct due to humans.

There have been many species that would be still around today but due to humans, they have gone extinct. Humans have ignored the dwindling number of Atlantic bluefin tuna for quite some time but now many countries are coming forward, not wanting to be responsible for the bluefin tuna’s disappearance. There are many reasons why species became extinct, either it’s because they're large predators that compete with human hunters for wild game like deer and elk and because they prey on domestic animals like sheep or because they threaten humans. Some animals are killed for sport by trophy hunters and also because international countries demand products like elephant tusk ivory, rhino horn, aquarium fish, bear and cat skins, just to name several.

Many species had to leave their habitats due to tropical deforestation include market agriculture, logging, and harvesting of fuel wood. They get pushed from their homes so that we can make a buck. I looked online to find species that have been extinct by human causes. With no surprised I found a site that showed some animals that had been recently extinct.
This site shows eleven extinct species and gave some background information on the animals and the cause of their extinction. Why weren’t these species protected? I wonder how nations would react, if the Atlantic bluefin tuna weren’t a huge money maker as they are today. Would nations make such a big commotion as they are today? Personally, I would like to think they would help regardless of the tuna’s current business status, but I highly doubt it.

Posted by: Alfonso C. III

Friday, March 12, 2010

How to fish for a Bluefin Tuna

I got bored today of looking up more facts about why the Bluefin Tuna is becoming extinct. Today, for my last post, I wanted to look up something different that I hadn't thought of previously this term. So off I went to google and I typed in the generic Bluefin Tuna in the search bar. Pretty soon the pull down tab was running amuck with ideas for me to look into regarding the tuna. Bluefin Tuna endangered, Bluefin Tuna sushi, Bluefin Tuna prices all were there for me to click on. Then I saw it, Bluefin Tuna fishing. "This looks interesting". I clicked on the link and google magically supplied me with various pages to peruse.
One of the more interesting ones that I stumbled upon spoke of the various techniques on how to catch the Bluefin Tuna. This site detailed how thrilling it could be to master the art of catching a Bluefin. The chase would be exhausting but catching the tuna would be worth it. After reading through all that this the page had to say on catching it (and from what I read, the actually art of catching the tuna requires strength and patience as the tuna is strong, fast and smart) I saw a small paragraph that detailed specifics on the Tuna. This random fishing site actually had information on it that said:
"There is increasing controversy surrounding the bluefin tuna, however. These fish were once almost relegated to the endangered list, and they are strictly regulated by the National Marine Fisheries Service. You must have a permit that specifically allows you to fish for bluefin, and you are not allowed to sell the fish that you keep unless you have a commercial fishing license. There are specific limits on catches, so be sure and inform yourself of any and all regulations."
This amazed me. Here I am, thinking that this site was all about the catching and killing of the fish, but no there us true information here that spells out to the fisherman what the need to do in order to preserve this creature from extinction. Granted it doesn't specify just how close to extinction the Bluefin truly is or that maybe the fisherman should double think going out on the water to catch them, but saying that the fish is almost endangered and that there are regulations denying people from selling the fish, well that was music to my ears.
All in all, this is a small step that again we see someone as "low down" on the food chain as a fisherman is taking. Perhaps by allowing more and more fisherman to understand the Bluefin's eventual path into extinction, we can save them one day.

McGee, Scott. "Tuna fishing techniques: catching bluefin tuna." (2002): n. pag. Web. 12 Mar 2010. .

A show of Concern

By Adam Konder

In what may be viewed as an attempt by the Japanese government to show that they are taking steps to protect the Atlantic bluefin, Japan has suspended the importation of about 2200 tons of farmed Atlantic bluefin tuna. The reasons for the suspension are discrepancies in documentation relating to the catch. According to the Mainichi News, “Japanese Fisheries Agency has found flaws with the dates on the catch documents attached to the export under ICCAT rules, and notified the European Union that it would not permit the import”. This Documentation system is related to measures implemented by the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas. Japan may be posturing in an attempt to offer an alternate solution other than the CITES proposed ban on bluefin trade.

Japan has claimed that it does not oppose blufin conservation, but believes that regional fisheries bodies like ICCAT should regulate the issue. There is a fear that the CITES ban would be too inflexible. Japan feels that the purpose of CITES is to protect endangered species and according to top representative Hirofumi Hirano, he, “personally doubt(s) that bluefin tuna is currently facing such a situation. As of now, Japan “consumes percent of the worlds yearly catch” of blufin. Japanese officials have stated that they will oppose the CITES ban.

Whether Japan is trying to show that they are taking steps to reduce overfishing by adhering to ICCAT measures or not, the CITES ban may go forward. There are many who view the ICCAT as an ineffectual organization, which cannot effectively regulate blufin overfishing.

China: Aspiring Foodies

By Pontus Abelt

The People’s Republic of China’s younger generation has become bored with stir-fries, and chicken dumplings. Although China is a tradition driven culture, the new generation has alternate its long-standing traditions to keep up with the ever-growing demands for western commodities. However, these commodities aren’t just western clothes or cars, thus people’s urge for "exotic" food has become the latest trend for the Chinese. Yet the Chinese traditional kitchen is still their number one choice, although the younger generation is looking for new food options and sushi has become one of these. Thus the new shift in the Chinese culinary world should be considered as healthy for the Chinese and the rest of the world, try to imagine 300 million new foodies searching the world’s food market for new culinary adventures, and considering that 90% of all the oceans large predators are near extinction, another 300 million aspiring foodies may overwhelm the already over exploited oceans and sushi may become the world's last food trend.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Another reason not to eat bluefin ...

TuNo: Mercury in Bluefin Tuna Forces Search for Alternatives
Recent lab tests, the New York Times reports, have found so much mercury in bluefin tuna--a popular item in sushi restaurants from coast to coast--that a diet of six pieces a week would exceed the maximum levels recommended by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Owners of sushi restarants implicated in the study expressed astonishment at the findings, which also concluded that sushi from five of the 20 establisments tested could be shut down for exceeding acceptable mercury levels. Mercury levels included in the study were far greater than those found in canned tuna, which itself was the subject of a warning from the EPA and the federal Food and Drug Administration, who issued a statement in 2004 that children, pregnant women, and women who might become pregnant should avoid eating certain kinds of canned tuna. More recent studies have indicated that mercury may also cause health problems in adults, including neurological symptoms and cardiovascular disease.
Meanwhile, there are other (environmental) reasons to avoid bluefin tuna. As of last year (and for the next four years), Japan's annual quota for southern bluefin tuna has been cut in half, making it severely overfished, and its allotment of Atlantic bluefin has been reduced by almost 25 percent, because of shortages. The Washington Post reports that sushi restaurant proprietors are selling the fish at a substantial loss, and imports of tuna into the United States have dropped 24 percent, and last year, the US actually implored other nations to completely ban bluefin tuna fishing for three to five years until stocks can be replenished. Now the bluefin tuna population is threatened with extinction.

OK, that's the bad news. The good news is, there are alternatives! Several tuna purveyors deal in low-mercury, "safer" alternatives--chief among them Kona Kampachi tuna, AKA Kona Blue, a sustainably farmed fish which has, since at least last year, been catching the attention of sushi and other high-end chefs looking for sustainable alternatives to conventional farmed fish around the country. The fish receive no antibiotics or medications, and their food comes from sustainable wild fisheries and organic sources. Another alternative comes from Wild Planet, a sustainable seafood enterprise that produces "minimal" and "low" mercury tuna--meaning fish that average less than 0.15 parts per million of mercury, thanks in part to their small size when caught--between nine and 25 pounds, compared to the 70-plus-pound fish that are caught in traditional line fishing.

Much, much more information (and many more resources for those seeking non-mercury-contaminated alternatives to conventional bluefin tuna) can be found at the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas, which works to conserve tunas "and tuna-like species" in the Atlantic Ocean.

Help for the Little Guys

           Sustainable fishing means different things to different people. For conservationists, it is a no-brainer and everyone should be on board with the idea of saving our ocean’s fish. For the average person, it may mean trading their current sushi or fish dinner option for another. For the people in developing nations, it means something entirely different. Sustainable fishing means not being able to fish or allow fishing in their waters as much as they need to in order to get the money they need to support their families. The question then becomes, how do we fish sustainably but still allow developing nations a chance in an ever-competing market?
          Currently, many developing countries have agreements with larger countries that allow large fishing fleets to fish local waters. According to the UN Law of the Sea, any country has the right to allow other nations to fish their waters. Despite the seemingly mutual agreements, many developing nations are being exploited. The access agreements can lead to over-fishing and destruction of local habitats because they do not include sustainability clauses. This, in turn, leaves developing nations left with fishless waters and a habitat unsuitable for habitation. In an article in Science Daily, Martin D. Smith, associate professor of environmental economics at Duke University said “Many imports are coming from developing countries that are not necessarily well-positioned to manage their resources sustainably.” While these agreements may help the local economies in the short-term, they can leave the country worse off than when they started.
         Groups like the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) are working to help developing countries to negotiate fairer agreements that ensure sustainable practices by larger countries. They are currently working with countries such as Africa and Latin America to help spread the word. They have also developed a handbook to help countries when negotiating agreements. Their principle requirement is “Fisheries partnership agreements should only be granted under the auspices of a fully developed fisheries management plan and after conducting environmental impact assessments.” You can go to  to learn more about the efforts of the WWF.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Decrease in fish populations

Decrease in fish populations

The current rates of overfishing will deplete 90% of the world’s commercial fish by mid century. There are many things contributing to the dwindling supply of fish including over fishing, acidification, pollution from urban and agricultural run off, and habitat destruction. Ocean acidification is caused by the ocean absorbing our carbon dioxide emissions. About 50% of all marine fish stocks are being fished at or near sustainable limits. This number is too high. Margot Stiles a marine scientist at Oceana said, “We have caught all the big fish and now we are going after their food.” The loss of the small forage fish like herring, sardines, and menhaden threatens the large fish that eat them such as bluefin tuna, striped bass, Pacific Salmon, and Pacific halibut.

One thing we can do is to limit our consumption of fish in order to cut down on the huge demand for fish. We can also recycle and cut down on the pollution to our environment. We can carpool or ride our bikes to help decrease the pollution. We can become informed about the current issues associated with overfishing which faces many of us today. We can help to support legislature aimed at increasing our healthy fish stocks. It is important to support programs that increase the fish population and healthy fish stocks.

Some information in this post was rewritten from The Daily Green.
posted by Dana Cherry
March 10, 2010

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

More than just a fish…

Sadly it took a long time before people began to realize that the Atlantic bluefin tuna are being pushed closer to extinction. Recently, catches has been on a decrease a reason to do something about these beautiful but yet delicious fish. There’s a lot about the Atlantic bluefin tuna that many people don’t know about. Tuna’s body built for speed and endurance. They can travel through the depths at 43 M.P.H. and can retract their dorsal and pectoral fins into slots to reduce drag. The average length is 6.5 feet and they can get to weigh 550 pounds. They get enormous by eating smaller fish, crustaceans, squid, and eels. They scale colors make a great camouflage with metallic silver on the top of the fish and silver white on the bottom making them hard to see by predators. They also filter feed zooplankton and also been seen munching on kelp. Even though fish are known to be cold blooded the tuna are rare because they are warm- blooded. They’re able to live comfortable off the cold water of Iceland and the warm water in the Gulf of Mexico. Hopefully by learning more about the Altantic bluefin tuna, people will get motivated to preserve them for future generations.

Too learn more about the Atlantic Bluefin Tuna visit

Posted by: Alfonso

Seafood Watch

Seafood Watch

By: Richard Dickey

Seafood Watch is a program that was started by the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Like the eco-labeling program of the Marine Stewardship Council, this program is used to help consumers differentiate between marine products that are sustainable and those that arent'. The questions asked by the program are ones like, what are the effects on the ecosystem by fishing this particular fish? Are the ways in which fish are caught damaging the habitats of other fish?

The seafood watch is a list, which started as just a small brochure, has now grown to books, and larger pamphlets. The Watch is designed to inform the consumer. This is done by wallet guides, or even iPhone apps. The guide has 3 simple questions for consumers. They are:

  1. Where is this from?

  2. Is it wild caught or farmed?

  3. If it's wild caught where is it from?

These questions will help to determine weather the fish was sustainably caught, or was caught using large fishing nets that damage the environment and catch other marine life.

The best thing a consumer can do is to ask these questions. By asking, large companies are taking action to find out if their fish are sustainable. Companies like Wal Mart are already changing how they go about getting fish because of the actions of consumers. All it takes is being inquisitive.

Monday, March 8, 2010

How would the ban on bluefin tuna trade be enforced?

By Oluwaseun Owosekun

On March 4, 2010, the Obama Administration announced its support for the complete ban on international trade of Atlantic bluefin tuna proposed in Europe under the United Nations Convention of International Trade of Endangered Species. Conservationists and their supporters are probably delighted about this major endorsement by the United States government and naturally, commercial fishermen are mostly definitely not happy about it. Considering this proposed ban on Atlantic bluefin tuna trade is an international effort not supported by all countries especially Japan, the largest consumer of this fish. How would this new law be enforced? What would be the punishment for countries that violate this law? How would commercial fishermen whose livelihoods depend on the trade of the Atlantic bluefin tuna be compensated?

Laws have been passed throughout history to protect endangered species like gorillas, monkeys, and tigers; however, we still have illegal trade of these animals going on all over the world. I am not very hopeful that this proposed ban would work because harvesting of these fishes takes place on the ocean. How does the enforcing body plan to keep watch over every country in the world to see who is violating the ban or not?

Source: Obama Administration to Back Ban on Bluefin Tuna Trade - AOL News

Overfishing Survey

By Jennifer Winward

In an attempt to find out the public's opinions on the overfishing of bluefin tuna I conducted a survey, on the social networking site, consisting of 20 people from all over the United States.  The participants were ranging from 18-62 years old.  They were asked questions related to the overfishing issue and I think the results show a good amount of public interest in finding a solution to this problem.  Here are the results:

90 % of those interviewed think that overfishing is a significant problem.

70 % of those interviewed said that they would alter their eating habits if they knew it would make a difference.

80% of those interviewed think that there needs to be improved legislation over bluefin tuna.

60% of those interviewed believe bluefin tuna will become extinct in the next 50 years.

75% of those interviewed said they would like to learn more about the topic of overfishing.

What do you think?  I will post a survey on the right hand of the page to get our reader opinions!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

10 Reasons Not to Eat Tuna by

by Qinyan Huang

     Do you still eat tuna because you think it’s good for you? In fact, the latest scientific research shows that eating tuna is hazardous to your health. Here are the top 10 reasons to let tuna off the hook.

1. Brain Rot!

    Tuna fish accumulate toxic mercury in their flesh as a result of industrial pollution, and the side effects of mercury poisoning include finger curling, cognitive impairment, and coordination problems. A California boy, who was the subject of a front-page Wall Street Journal article, went from being a star athlete and honor student to being unable to concentrate or catch a football because he ate canned tuna. Even if he had eaten only half a can of albacore tuna a week, he still would have consumed 60 percent more mercury than is considered “safe” by the U.S. government.

2. Tremendous Tuna

    The largest tuna are bluefin tuna, who can reach 15 feet in length and weigh more than 1,500 pounds. Even “small” tuna species, such as yellowfin and albacore, can grow to be 6.5 feet long and weigh hundreds of pounds. Tuna aren’t exactly couch potatoes—they can swim more than 100 miles in a day—with a top speed of 40 miles per hour.

3. Heart Attack on a Hook

    Eating fish is not healthy for your heart! Heavy metals are concentrated in tuna because of the contaminated fish they eat. Tuna flesh is loaded with heavy metals that attack the heart muscle, so the toxicity outweighs any possible health benefits of omega-3 fatty acids. According to a recent study published in the American Heart Association’s journal, men with the highest levels of mercury increased their risk for heart disease by 60 percent and their risk of dying of a heart attack by 70 percent. Do your heart a favor—put down the fish fork and pick up a safer source of omega-3s, such as walnuts and flaxseeds.

4. Would You Eat Your Dog?

    How about a fish who’s as smart as a dog? Dr. Theresa Burt de Perera, an Oxford University scientist, recently published research showing that fish learn faster than dogs. And University of Edinburgh biologist Culum Brown says, “In many areas, such as memory, their cognitive powers match or exceed those of ‘higher’ vertebrates, including non-human primates.”

5. Sorry, Charlie

    Unlike a certain cartoon tuna, fish aren’t begging to be caught. Tuna are chased until they move into a tight group, and then a net is lowered around them. They are dragged against rocks and debris, and some fish suffocate from the sheer weight of other fish pressing against them. Large tuna are impaled on longlines—which are miles of barbed hooks that are left in the ocean for days at a time.

6. Death, Sopranos-Style

     Think “swimming with the fishes” in reverse. “Hit men” dump smaller tuna onto ice, where they slowly freeze to death or are crushed when thousands of their schoolmates are piled on top of them. Tuna caught on longlines are beaten until they become unconscious before they are thrown into the freezer—and that’s if they haven’t already bled to death while struggling to free themselves!

7. Factory Fish Bowls

    Because fishing trawlers are increasingly emptying the seas of more and more of their inhabitants, fish are now being raised on “farms.” Small tuna are captured and dumped into netted pens. They are fattened on pellets of concentrated fish flesh and killed when they get big enough—if they don’t die first from the parasites and diseases that thrive in extremely crowded conditions.

8. Sickening Sashimi

    Stay away from the sushi buffet if you don’t want to spend the next day at the porcelain palace. Seafood is the number one cause of food poisoning in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are about 75 million cases of foodborne illness every year, including hundreds of thousands of hospitalizations and thousands of deaths.

9. Dolphin-Unsafe Tuna

    Tuna is about as “dolphin-friendly” as a boat propeller. Even if dolphins aren’t “accidentally” trapped in tuna nets, they are still killed intentionally by Japanese tuna anglers because they prey on tuna. Entire pods of whales and dolphins are rounded up and driven into shallow water where all but the youngest (who are captured and sold to aquariums) are slaughtered with knives and machetes.

10. Tuna-Safe Tuna

    Vegetarian tuna, available from, is a double-take fake tuna that is perfect for sandwiches, casseroles, and “fish” cakes. It is packed with protein and has an uncanny “tuna” flavor and texture, but it’s free of mercury, harmful bacteria, and suffering.

    If you’re “fishing” for a heart-smart diet that has been proved to actually reverse heart disease while also reducing the risk of cancer, diabetes, and obesity and that is good for the environment as well as fish-friendly—a vegetarian diet is the perfect catch.


Bluefin Tuna is in Serious Touble and Tuna Quota Cut

By Qinyan Huang

       The U.S.'s announcement that it will support an international trade ban on the Atlantic bluefin tuna was shocking news for Japan, given that about half of their supply comes from the Atlantic and the Mediterranean, Reuters reported. While Japan says it won't comply with an international ban on the fish, fish farmers are looking to alternative methods. Farmed tuna is increasingly emerging as a commercially viable option, which scientists are breeding using eggs hatched in labs, not in the wild, Reuters reported.

       Atlantic bluefin tuna is in serious trouble as demand for bluefin as a sushi topping drives down stocks of the fish. Conservation organizations and celebrities have pressured high-profile restaurateurs, particularly the global sushi tycoon Nobu Matsuhisa, to remove bluefin from their menus. But so far it looks like a losing battle. Bluefin sushi is big money, and that's because everyone thinks bluefin toro--the fatty belly cuts of the fish--is the pinnacle of fine Japanese dining. If this situation weren't so sad, it would be hilarious, because just a few decades ago, the Japanese considered toro such a disgusting part of the tuna that the only people who would eat it were impoverished manual laborers. And prior to about the 1920s, no self-respecting Japanese person would eat any kind of tuna at all if they could possibly avoid it. Tuna was so despised in Japan that all tuna species qualified for an official term of disparagement: gezakana, or "inferior fish."

      But the current bluefin fad--Atlantic bluefin in particular--remains a historical anomaly, and one partly manufactured deliberately, for corporate profit. During the heyday of Japan's export economy, Japanese airline cargo executives promoted Atlantic bluefin for sushi so they'd have something to fill their planes up with on the flight from East Coast US cities back to Tokyo. And as the recent documentary film The End of the Line has reported, Mitsubishi Corporation, one of the largest bluefin distributors in the world, now appears to be stockpiling massive amounts of bluefin in enormous high-tech deep freezers so it can make a killing dolling them at inflated prices out after the wild fish is all but gone.

      As this mayhem continues to unfold, back in Japan you can still find a few old-school sushi aficionados who disdain bluefin toro. They'll tell you that toro is child's play. Anyone can enjoy that simplistic, melt-in-your-mouth succulence, they say. It takes the real skill of a connoisseur to appreciate the more subtle and complex tastes and textures of the traditional kings of the sushi bar--delicate whitefish like flounder and sea bream being some of the best, along with mackerels, jacks, clams, squid, and other types of shellfish that have been popular all along. Personally, I won't eat bluefin anymore, and I don't miss it at all. My sushi eating experiences have actually become more interesting as a result.

Get Legislators on Board!

We need the support of legislators to save the bluefin! The House of Representatives has found bipartisan agreement on the fate of the bluefin. Read the article posted below for more information. If you live in Reps. Shcultz or Wittman’s district, send letters of support for the conservation of bluefin tuna. If you don’t live in these districts, write your Congressional Representatives and Senators and let them know the importance of this issue to their constituency and the next election!

The Sacramento Bee


Published: Thursday, Feb. 25, 2010 - 5:10 am

For avid anglers, few things in life can match the thrill of catching a bluefin tuna. And for good reason. The sheer power and brute force of a bluefin tuna is nothing short of astonishing. Anglers who have been lucky enough to tangle with a bluefin will no doubt remember that experience forever. But unless we act now, these opportunities to hook up with one of the ocean's most magnificent and awe-inspiring animals may soon become a thing of the past.

Fortunately, a historic moment for conservation of Atlantic bluefin tuna is near. This March, representatives from 175 countries will meet in Doha, Qatar, for the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). In effect since 1975, the CITES treaty establishes rules for international trade to protect plants and animals from commercial overexploitation. More than 40 proposals are on this year's agenda, but one - a proposal to enact the highest level of protection for Atlantic bluefin tuna - stands out as a tremendous step forward to halt the decline of an extremely valuable sport and food fish. The outcome of this seemingly distant debate could have a real direct impact, not only on anglers in the United States but throughout the Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea.

Sport fishermen are not alone in their quest. Bluefin tuna, known for their delicious meat and revered by sushi chefs and diners around the world, are so sought after that a 511-pound fish sold recently at Tokyo's famed Tsukiji fish market for $175,000. Yet, even though fishing for bluefin dates back to the Roman Empire, the post-World War II industrialization of the fishing fleet has pushed this species to the brink. Indeed, estimates indicate that there are only roughly 41,000 mature bluefin left in the Western Atlantic - down from more than 220,000 just 40 years ago Recently Monaco called for the strongest possible protections for Atlantic bluefin tuna populations. Under consideration during the March meeting, the proposal would prohibit all international commercial trade in Atlantic bluefin.

In no way, however, would this proposal prevent U.S. anglers from catching bluefin tuna. In fact, there's a good chance this proposal would actually increase recreational fishing opportunities since Atlantic bluefin populations would finally have a chance to rebuild.
This crisis has also attracted the attention of several members of Congress. A recent bipartisan effort led by Reps. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., and Robert Wittman, R-Va., and backed by 32 other House members, called on the Obama administration to support the Monaco CITES proposal. And in light of President Obama's recent call for ideas grounded in science that can attract bipartisan support, U.S. delegates to the CITES meeting must seize the opportunity to protect this important game fish from collapse.

Few fish species command as much respect from anglers as Atlantic bluefin and the momentum has never been stronger to restore populations. It's finally time for global action and the United States cannot afford to sit on the sidelines.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Conservation Commission Not All It's Cracked Up To Be

According to their website, the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas(ICCAT) "is responsible for the conservation of tunas and tuna-like species in the Atlantic Ocean and adjacent seas." The Commission collects data and performs research with regards to the tuna. The intergovernmental group also sets fishing quotas. These quotas are supposed to be within a sustainable range. After all, the ICCAT "is responsible for the conservation of tunas and tuna-like species," right?

Well, not exactly. Some say that the group has often fallen short of that responsibility. According to information in an article on and an article in Foreign Policy magazine, ICCAT has set the quotas too high for the past decade, ignoring the recommendations of their own scientists. The Commission is showing where it's priorities are...with the commercial fishing industries. ICCAT has even been referred to as the "International Conspiracy to End All Tunas" by some conservationists. Ten years of doing the opposite of what you say you do seems like a bit much. Perhaps it is time to assign a different group to the task of conserving the tuna populations.


Japan opposing Bluefin Tuna trade restrictions, European Union still deciding..

On Wedenday, the United States government decided to support prohibiting international trade of Atlantic bluefin tuna. Japan being the biggest consumer of bluefin tuna is still opposing the trade restrictions. The bluefin tuna has been big business in Japan so if they decided to support the international trade of Atalntic bluefin tuna they're economy will be impacted much greater than the United States and Europe. The fish is so valuable that a single bluefin sold for a record $173,600 at Tokyo's Tsukiji market in 2001. With each fish commanding tens of thousandths of dollars for every fish.
The European Union will be making their decision on whether it too will join in on the proposed ban on international commercial trade or if they will refrain from it. I wouldn’t be surprised if they too decided to oppose the ban since the Europe are is big seafood eaters.
Over the past half-century, the adult population of eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean bluefin tuna has declined 74 percent, much of it in the past decade. In the western Atlantic, the population has dropped 82 percent in 40 years. In 2007, just 78,724 metric tons of spawning biomass remained in the Eastern Atlantic from a peak of more than 305,000 tons in the mid-1950s, the department said.
Change is hard but it’s necessary for the survival of this fish that turned to a delicacy worldwide.
Posted by Alfonso Chicharro III

Friday, March 5, 2010

Straining ties

The Toyota recall incident, The Okinawa military base dispute and American support of the ban on international trade of blufin is straining ties between the US and Japan. Some believe that there will be a resurgence of Japan Bashing. From my own perspective, I can see how some people would interpret a damaged relationship with programs like whale wars which depict American conversationalist waging war against illegal Japanese whalers on TV.
Japan consumes about 75% of the worlds annual blufin catch and claims that it will not comply with the bluefin tuna ban. From Japan’s position they feel as if they have already taking steps to protect the bluefin population. The support of America on the proposed ban has backed Japan into a corner. According to a bluefin wholesaler in Japan “I feel that what happened with Okinawa and with Toyota is being extended to the tuna issue as well. It is just Japan-bashing.” According to an article from the Washington post “fish wholesalers agreed that global restrictions in the bluefin catch make sense, when they are based on academic data. But they said there is no way Japan can go along with a blufin ban.
Despite how American support of the ban is interpreted, there is a large body of evidence that points to a severe decline in the blufin population. And the ban is one way to address this problem. The only alternative solution posed by the Japanese government is that they feel that a different organization (other than cites) known as Iccat should manage the protection of the bluefin population.

Adam Konder

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Troubled Waters

Troubled Waters
The fishing in Zambezi has changed drastically over time. The fish that the fishermen are now catching there are unsellable. The fish are literally rotting in the water. The fish have deep ulcerations and tissue decay. Over 700,000 depend on the Zambezi for sustenance. Because of improper fishing methods over the years there has been a serious depletion of fish. The new threat to the fish is a killer fungal disease called epizootic ulcerative syndrome or EUS. This has had a severe impact on the livelihood of the fishermen. They aren’t able to support their families. The fish have also been getting smaller over the years because of climate change and overfishing. EUS is also thought to be an outcome of climate change and warmer waters. This problem of the rotting fish also has an effect on other countries including Angola, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Malawi, and Mozambique. Various groups are trying to help tackle the disease and fight the effects of overfishing. Isaac Phiri is a livestock professor and permanent secretary in the ministry of fishing. He feels that it is nearly impossible to control EUS in natural waters. The SADC is trying to formulate fish disease monitoring groups. Martha Ngumbo is a veterinary researcher and she feels that EUS shouldn’t be the primary cause of focus. She feels that the disease may eventually die out. She also thinks that the focus should be more heavily on over-fishing, bad practices, climate change, and failure to support existing legislation that governs fishing. Alternative ways of fishing should also be developed.
posted by Dana Cherry
This information was gained from an article found at It was written 10/24/09.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Consequences of calling the Bluefin extinct

By: Michelle Dickey

Yes the Bluefin Tuna is rapidly become a species on the verge of collapse, but should we really consider it to be extinct?
In November 2009, a meeting occurred in Brazil in which negotiators from the United States tried to convince everyone that the Bluefin Tuna are an endangered species and they need to be protected. By proclaiming the tuna as endangered, the selling of the tuna would result in a ban on international trade.
Banning international trade could be both a good thing and a bad thing. On the one hand, it would stop fishermen in the Mediterranean and in Europe from overfishing with the hopes of selling more to countries like Japan . But on the other hand, an international trade ban would hinder the United States bluefin tuna industry, who has actually been fishing sustainable low quotas for about two decades.
When we put the numbers into the equation, the United States fisherman are only allowed to catch 2,000 metric tons of fish per year while the European and African fisherman have reported catching around 35,000 metric tons in 2007. Then of course you also have to take into consideration the vast amount of fish that were caught illegally in the Mediterranean , roughly 24,000 metric tons in 2008!! Is calling the Bluefin Tuna an endangered species really worth stopping the trade internationally and therefore punishing the United States ?! I’m not sure. I don’t want the U.S. market to fall any more than it already is, but I’m also favorable to stopping overfishing and saving the Bluefin Tuna.
Decisions, decisions

Fraser, Doug. "Bluefin Tuna Protection Pushed." Cape Cod Times (2009): 2. Web. 27 Feb 2010. .

Monday, March 1, 2010

Familiar waters

Eric Schwaab is the new head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Marine Fisheries Service. He is hoping to be able to “promote management that builds sustainable fisheries and vibrant coastal communities.” He also said there are some significant challenges. His experience in this regard was to restore Maryland’s crab fishery. He tried to do this without too heavy of an economic toll on the local watermen. The blue crab population in Maryland is recovering slowly after years of heavy fishing. His goal in Oregon is “to balance long-term sustainability and short-term economic realities.” There is a large group of critics who are skeptical of the government’s ocean-management policies. The group has been dubbed United We Fish.
submitted by Dana Cherry
This information was found online on The following link contains the original article. it was written February 18, 2010.