BlueFin Tuna are now an Endangered Species

Friday, August 06, 2010 by: Amielia Ponds
Tags: tuna, endangered species, health news

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(NaturalNews) BlueFin Tuna is now on the endangered species list. Unhampered by threat of extinction, possible poisoning by toxins and metals, or even anti-poaching volunteers and laws, poachers and consumers continue to hunt and serve up the expensive delicacy. Each catch may be the last BlueFin on earth or may tip the scales of balance in the ocean food chain.

BlueFins Role in the Ocean Food Chain

BlueFin are slow growing, late to mature, and long-lived compared to other tropical species of tuna. Found from the Gulf of Mexico, Newfoundland, east Atlantic, Canary Islands, Iceland, and even in the Mediterranean, they live in the Open Ocean and migrate long distances - likely following seasonal food stock. Their long migrations that take them nearly around the Atlantic mean that each school is regularly fished in many different locations; this is depleting all breeding stocks rapidly.

Bluefin tuna is at both the top and bottom of the food chain. Bits of dead plant and fish matter coupled with sunlight and the runoff from human sewage and industrial waste become the foods for plankton-microscopic algae and animals - which live at the surface of the oceans. The spawn of fish and other juveniles eat this plankton, including the young BlueFin tuna.

Other fish feed on the tuna from birth through adulthood including marine mammals. In the meantime, the sewage and industrial runoff causes toxins and metals to accumulate to dangerous levels in the Bluefin's body.

BlueFins Role on the Plate

BlueFin is a dark colored fish and very high in fat. Because of its high fat content, it is especially sought after for sushi and sashimi. The higher the fat content, the more prized and valuable the fish, but cooking it is not advised because the high fat content gives off an unpleasant fishy taste and odor.

Although BlueFin has been a commercially caught fish for thousands of years, western worlds are also exploiting them for high profits. This is resulting in further depleting the global stock. Further, the dangerous toxins and metals from urban run-off accumulate in the fat deposits in the tuna, making them a diner's slow poison.

Fishing Restrictions on BlueFin

It comes as no surprise that BlueFin tuna is fast becoming extinct. With the massive increase in human populations and increased popularity of sushi and sashimi, it is becoming a prized catch, fetching higher and higher market prices, which fuel its hunt down. As of 1982, fishing of the species was restricted. By 1998, a rebuilding program was initiated with the intent to rebuild stock in the North Atlantic.

In 1999 and 2006 further restrictions on driftnets, catching methods, limits and hunting methods were restricted, and careful planning on preventing the total extinction of the species was implemented. Public interest groups became involved in 2010, even sending out boats that follow tuna fishing boats to monitor their fishing methods and to ensure they do not catch more than their yearly or seasonal limits. These actions barely stem the tide of massive kills for fish markets globally.

The Fate of the BlueFin is in Our Hands

Back just a few hundred years ago overfishing was not an issue as inland imports of fish were unheard of. New methods of storage for long distance shipping furthered the exploitation of the fish by land-bound countries.

We can prevent the extinction of yet another species on our planet. While the BlueFin is part of the diets of several countries, we can substitute with other farmed or renewable fish sources. The secret to saving the BlueFin lies in eating local, rather than imported, foods. Or go vegan or vegetarian.

Market name: Tuna, Bluefin Tuna, Toro, Maguro
Vernacular names: Giant Bluefin, Northern Bluefin Tuna


National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration; Page last updated: April 6, 2010; Atlantic BlueFin Tuna; (Acessed: 2010 July 12) http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/fishwatch/species/a...

RhodeIsland Sea Grant Factsheet; the Marine Food Web by Tony Corey with Dave Beutel; (Accessed: 2010 July 12) http://seagrant.gso.uri.edu/factsheets/foodw...

GreenPeace; Global Overfishing; Empty Seas, Empty Future; (Accessed: 2010 July 12) http://archive.greenpeace.org/oceans/globalo...

Bloomburg; By Zinta Lundborg - May 18, 2010; Consuming Blue Fin Tuna Is Like Barbecuing Pandas: Interview; http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2010-05-18/eat...

National Geographic; the Ocean; (Accessed 2010 July 12, 2010) http://ocean.nationalgeographic.com/ocean/ta...

About the author

Amielia is passionate about so called super foods. She has been writing in the health and wellness field since 2004 for private clients and for Natural News since 2009.

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