Pacific bluefin tuna population plummets 96% from overfishing

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Bluefin tuna

The Pacific bluefin tuna, a popular ingredient by sushi lovers, has seen a 96 percent decline in its population, making it a species that could face extinction this year. The reason behind the plummeting population is overfishing: 90 percent of the specimens that are being fished are young fish that have not had the opportunity to reproduce.

“There is no logical way a fishery can have such a high level of fishing on juveniles and continue,” shares Amanda Nickson, of the Pew Environment Group. “The population of Pacific bluefin is a small fraction of what it used to be and is in danger of all but disappearing. It’s a highly valuable natural commodity and people naturally want to fish something that gives them such a high return.”

What’s her solution? The Guardian writes:

She called for fishing of the species to be halted as a matter of urgency. Although there are measures to manage the exploitation of bluefin tuna in the Atlantic, and some measures in the eastern Pacific, the main spawning ground for Pacific bluefin tuna in the western part of that ocean is not managed. The main fishing fleets exploiting the stocks are from Japan, Mexico, South Korea and the US, and the high value of the last remaining fish is a further encouragement to fishermen to hunt down the last few of the species. A single specimen could make the catchers rich for life, and without catch limits and rigorous enforcement, there is nothing to stop fishermen pursuing them.

Nickson said: “This assessment shows just how bad the situation really is for this top predator. This highly valuable fish is being exploited at almost every stage of its life cycle. Fishing continues on the spawning grounds of this heavily overfished tuna species.”

Susmita is a writer and editor in the Greater New York City area. In her spare time, Susmita enjoys cooking, traveling, dappling in photography, art history and interior design, and moonlighting as a therapist for her loved ones.