Endangered Bluefin Tuna Fetches Record Price at Tokyo Auction

bluefin tuna tokyo fish market photo

photo: Stewart Butterfield via flickr.

One more quick one on the tragedy of bluefin tuna's trajectory towards extinction: BBC News reports that a single bluefin tuna has been sold for the highest price in the past nine years at a Tokyo fish auction. The 232 kilogram (511 pound) fish fetched 16.28 million yen, or a bit over $175,000:Japan drives the global market for bluefin tuna, eating more of it than any other nation, and while this particular fish was caught in waters off Japan where stocks are not as depleted as they are in the Atlantic and Mediterranean, the price itself and the increase over prices for similar fish last year is significant.

Last year similarly-sized bluefin went for less than 10 million yen.

Atlantic & Med. Bluefin Gone in Three Years
At current fishing rates, estimates show that bluefin stocks in the Atlantic and Mediterranean could collapse entirely within the next few years. Conservation groups are pushing for a ban on trade in bluefin from these areas to allow the fish to recovery, something to be taken up at the next CITES meeting in a few months' time.

'Concern' Understates Problem...
A bit of media criticism indulgence: In the original BBC piece the author contextualizes by saying, "Tuna is prized in Japan, where people eat it raw in sushi, but there is concern that stocks are dwindling."

Not to nitpick, but it's not exactly just concern that stocks are dwindling, it's a documented fact, backed up by the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tuna's own scientists. A small nuance in wording, but this isn't just worrying about fish, it's about the extinction of one of the world's largest fish, and one which has nourished humanity for millennia.

Bluefin Tuna
Atlantic Bluefin Tuna Ban Supported by Fishing Commission Scientists' Data
Atlantic Bluefin Tuna Will Be Gone in 3 Years at Current Fishing Rates
Nobu Still Serves Endangered Bluefin Tuna, Places Moronic Warning Labels on Menus

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