The Pacific BlueFin Tuna is dangerously close to extinction. Marine conservationists are calling for at least a two-year moratorium on commercial fishing. In the 2016 survey, scientists found that only 2.6% of the BlueFin tuna population exists. Excessive fishing and destruction of its spawning grounds are adding to its mortality.
The international bodies which manage the Pacific Bluefin tuna have failed to agree on a large-scale recovery plan that would put an end to overfishing. The two-year moratorium is expected to restore the bluefin tuna population to decent levels. However, the prognosis for this much-loved fish isn’t good. According to reports, it has an under 1 percent chance of being able to regain back its numbers.
The Pacific Bluefin tuna is a favorite because of its deep red-colored meat and fatty texture. This tuna can grow to as big as 450 kilograms in weight. It can live to over 40 years, but isn’t able to do so because it’s caught even before it reaches maturity. This tuna specie is fished primarily by Mexicans, Japanese and Americans. It’s great for sushi and sashimi and commands a good price in the fish markets. The Japanese, however, lead the world’s tuna consumption by 80 percent.
Cause for Alarm
The Pacific Bluefin tuna, also referred to as the “million dollar fish” because of the very high prices it commands at the Tsukiji fish market in Tokyo, isn’t dying out because of simple overfishing. It is no longer able to spawn. Since this fish travels thousands of miles to migrate and spawn, fishermen often intercept their routes and catch the tune before they are able to reproduce. This dramatically kills any chances of them being able to propagate their species.
Fisheries experts from the Tokyo University of Marine Science and Technology are convinced that if drastic actions are not undertaken, the Bluefin Tuna could become extinct in just a matter of years. Data from different fisheries agencies in Japan back this claim.
In Katsumoto, a port in Nagasaki Prefecture, only 23 tons of Bluefin tuna were caught in 2014. This is such a huge decline from 358 tons caught in the year 2005. The method used is not even commercial. These fishermen use only a single rod and line.
How to Rewrite the Fate of the Bluefin Tuna
The Pacific Bluefin tuna is just one of thousand of species of plants and animals which are on the road to becoming extinct. Conservationists and authorities have set a fishing limit to keep the Bluefin tuna populations at a healthy number. In 2015, the quota was set to a maximum of 3,300 tons per year. However, the problem is that 90 percent of the tuna fish being caught are just juveniles. Meaning, the ones left at sea still need years to mature and be able to reproduce.
Experts are pushing for much lower fishing limits each year so that the Bluefin tuna population can have a fighting chance at recovering. There is still hope, but law enforcement must be strict and fishing zones and limits must be observed. A single Pacific Bluefin tuna can lay thousands of eggs, but it must be able to reach its spawning grounds.