Scientists Demand Action to Save Atlantic Bluefin Tuna

Scientists from Stanford University and the Monterey Bay Aquarium are calling on fisheries managers to place tighter restrictions on harvests of bluefin tuna from the western Atlantic Ocean, where they say populations have dwindled as much as 80 percent since the 1970s.

Illustration by Les Hata/Dept. of Land and Natural Resources

“In my lifetime we’ve brought this majestic species to the doorstep of ecological extinction in the western Atlantic Ocean,” says Barbara Block of Stanford University.

Researchers employed state-of-the-art electronic tagging mechanisms to learn more about the migratory patterns and lifecycles of the majestic Atlantic bluefin tuna, which are prized by sushi connoisseurs worldwide. In Japan, a single bluefin can fetch as much as $100,000 in fish markets.

“There are two ways to save the Atlantic bluefin tuna stock—protect them in their breeding grounds and in their feeding grounds,” says Block.

“This will require immediate action in both the central Atlantic, to reduce mortality of giant bluefin while foraging, and in the Gulf of Mexico and Mediterranean Seas, where bluefin breed as discrete populations,” she adds.