Bluefin tuna is a favorite of sushi plates everywhere, and for that reason it’s been tremendously overfished. So much that the current numbers are at a 97% decline from historic population numbers.
This scary number is according to a report by the International Scientific Committee for Tuna and Tuna-like Species in the North Pacific Ocean (ISC). The ISC associates the nonstop demand for tuna with the harvesting rate at around three times of what would be advised in order to keep the Bluefin tuna population sustainable.
“The situation is really as bad as it appears,” said Amanda Nickson, director for Global Tuna Conservation at The Pew Charitable Trusts, told the Seattle Times, sharing that, despite fishing limits being enacted in order to protect the population, countries are still upping their catches. “If those managers again fail to act in a conservation-minded way this time, it may be time for other actions, such as an international trade ban or complete fishing moratorium,” Nickson said.
"In addition to being overfished, huge schools of juvenile fish are rounded up in purse seine nets to be ‘ranched’ or fed until they reach market size and maximum value without ever having a chance to reproduce and rebuild future populations, ” explains says Sean Dimin, Co-Founder and Director of Sea 2 Table.
“My suggestion would be for diners not to stop eating sushi but accepting and appreciating a wider variety of fish and tunas like Blackfin Tuna, Bluefin's smaller cousin, or Albacore Tuna sustainably harvested from the US Pacific Northwest. Better to seek out a more local, sustainable, and delicious option,” Dimin says.
Maybe it’s time to start diversifying your regular sushi order, before the choice is taken out of our hands.