Crisis on the Sushi Belt as Bluefin Numbers Plummet

Prompted by an annual auction in Tokyo’s Tsukiji fish market, bluefin tuna recently became the most expensive fish in the world. After extensive bidding wars for the delicacy, a 222kg bluefin tuna was bought for over £1million, shattering all fish buying records.

This historic purchase of this fascinating tuna carries much novelty, but dig a little deeper and you realise there is a more serious issue that lurks beneath our oceans: a dangerous lack of and an insatiable demand for the bluefin that is becoming impossible to meet. As it stands, its fatty flesh is loved by many and this tuna is often consumed in upmarket sushi bars in expensive sushi and sashimi dishes throughout Asia. Japan alone consumes more than half the world’s annual catch.

The huge profits generated from the buying and selling of the bluefin is a definite factor in the reluctance of authorities to slap an outright ban on the trade of this fish

This heavy demand for bluefin tuna has led many to believe that it won’t be long until the bluefin species is completely extinct. Compounding the issue, young Bluefin tuna are being caught before they have had the chance to reproduce, leading to the gradual erosion of stable stocks. Slowly but surely, the bluefin is becoming increasingly endangered.

The huge profits generated from the buying and selling of the bluefin is a definite factor in the reluctance of authorities to slap an outright ban on the trade of this fish. Nonetheless, the choice not to sanction any fishing regulations could lead to there being no bluefin tuna at all.

Compounding the issue, young Bluefin tuna are being caught before they have had the chance to reproduce

Encouragingly, 48 members of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) refuse to see the extinction of the bluefin, and recently agreed to stipulations that would enforce fishing limits. However this may not be enough to solve the battle for survival that the bluefin species faces, nor conserve this sushi belt staple for future generations.

Paula Pennant.

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