More Sustainable Sushi

There’s one way to stop further decimating remaining populations of bluefin tuna: stop eating them. The Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) has an ongoing Bluefin Boycott campaign that calls attention to the crisis faced by the tuna species–a species that can race across the Atlantic at 50 miles per hour but can’t out-swim commercial fishing lines and nets that have brought the bluefin to the brink of extinction. Popular in sushi, bluefin continues to be a prized catch; so much so that one fish fetched $177,000 at a Japanese fish market in 2010.

The Bluefin Boycott asks people worldwide to pledge not to eat or serve bluefin sushi. More than 20,000 people and a growing number of restaurants have since signed on, including several sushi restaurants from All Sushi Restaurant in Los Angeles, to Bamboo Sushi in Portland, Oregon, to Sushi Ten in Tucson, Arizona.

The campaign calls attention to what is unique—and worth saving—about the bluefin tuna. The fish are large—growing up to 10 feet long—and are almost alone among fish for being warm-blooded, able to regulate their own body temperature as they cruise across the Atlantic in just 60 days. They are predators, and the CBD compares their hunting skills to that of wolves. But as the fish’s popularity as a sushi item has grown, their numbers have plummeted. More than 80% of bluefin tuna have disappeared since 1970 almost entirely due to overfishing. Most of that decline has happened in the past 10 years. Even government rebuilding programs have proven ineffective.

Not all bluefin species are seriously endangered—right now, that designation is reserved for the Atlantic and southern bluefin species—but the CBD writes that the Pacific bluefin tuna may not be far behind. And the massive BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico last spring only made matters worse: killing more than 20% of young Atlantic bluefin tuna at the height of the fish’s spawning season.

SOURCE: Center for Biological Diversity