Life After Bluefin Tuna
by chris eaton
November 18, 2009
However, despite its high cost, the bluefin tuna remain popular amongst human populations (Japan being the largest consumer), while the tuna’s populations are depleting and rapidly approaching extinction because of overfishing.
The amount of bluefin tuna in the Atlantic has decreased by nearly 90% in the past 40 years due to the fact that they are a slow maturing species and are usually caught before they are able to reproduce. Reading these statistics merely sounds unfortunate, but perhaps contemplating a world in which the bluefin tuna does plunder into extinction will be eye-opening.
Already on the eastern coast of the United States, recreational and commercial bluefin tuna fisheries have dried up. Thousands of people whose livelihood depended on catching bluefin tuna have lost their jobs which in turn caused surrounding communities to lose millions of dollars. What kind of devastation would result from a worldwide extinction of tuna?
Bluefin tuna are one of the ocean’s major predators. Their depletion, and their subsequent extinction would have tremendous effects on the remaining ecosystems.
While Japanese fisheries continue to aggressively hunt the remaining stocks of bluefin tuna, increased bycatch is inevitable, particularly with the use of longlines. The populations of other creatures such as sea turtles, sharks, and marine mammals (many of which are already endangered) are placed in peril.
Although the threat of bluefin tuna’s extinction seems to be rapidly approaching, it can be avoided if the right actions are taken. Next year the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species will meet and hopefully ban the illegal trade in bluefin long enough for the population to replenish. Even this, however, is not enough. Greenpeace proposes that in order to preserve the existence of bluefin tuna and countless other endangered marine life, a global network of marine reserves that cover 40% of the world’s oceans needs to be established. While the earth is covered by 70% of water, only 0.5% of our oceans are currently protected. Those areas that are protected, though, produce 200 times as many fish that live longer and therefore grow larger than those of unprotected areas. The species under the protection of a marine reserve have the freedom to mate, feed, and rejuvenate without the threat of capture or habitat destruction.
Sign our petition to help protect the bluefin tuna and to establish global marine reserves that cover 40% of the world’s oceans!