Vote With Your Plate: Let Bluefin Tuna Off the Hook

boycottbluefin_logoBluefin tuna is a highly valuable ocean species; however, due to long-term practices of overfishing, their numbers are in rapid decline. Since 1970 it is estimated that 80 percent of the Bluefin tuna population has been depleted.

Even though this species is in dire need of legal defense, the Center for Biological Diversity’s petition to the federal government to protect Bluefin under the Endangered Species Act was denied in 2011. The Center believes it is now up to consumers to eliminate demand by boycotting restaurants who continue to serve this prized fish.

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Why It Matters

Bluefin tuna are distinctive fish, weighing up to 1,200 pounds and growing to around 10 feet long. These warm-blooded fish regulate their body temperature in order to complete marathon journeys across the Atlantic. Bluefin tuna are top ocean predators, likened to wolves in that they sometimes hunt cooperatively. The sleek bodies of the Bluefin tuna, combined with their retractable fins, enable them to reach speeds of 50 miles per hour.

Unfortunately, after decades of overfishing, the Bluefin is being pushed toward extinction. Two species of Bluefin, the Atlantic and the Southern, have been listed on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s “Red List” of endangered or critically endangered species. The Pacific Bluefin tuna is also at risk. In January 2013 scientists released an assessment that estimated a 96 percent decline of Pacific Bluefin tuna from un-fished levels.

As the fish regularly crosses international boundaries, government rebuilding programs have had little effect. Many have been caught in areas without regulatory oversight for the purpose of fish farming. Conservation Advocate Rob Mrowka is especially concerned by the impact of the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. In an interview with KLAS TV, he stated, “Scientists have done a study and they estimate that 20 percent or more of the juvenile Bluefin that were spawned that spring were killed.”

Despite their dwindling population, Bluefin tuna remains a popular entree, and a popular dish at sushi restaurants. The commercial value of Bluefin is notably high–a single tuna sold for $1.7 million in early 2013–which results in much illegal and unreported fishing. In response, the Center of Biological Diversity is turning to consumers, chefs, and restaurant owners. They maintain the best way to reduce the global demand for Bluefin is a large-scale Bluefin Boycott.

You can help save the Bluefin by signing the pledge today. Your commitment to not eating Bluefin tuna, boycotting any restaurant that serves it, and sharing the message with your communities will help stop the  unsustainable fishing of this precious species. How can you tell if the tuna on the menu is Bluefin? The only way to know for sure is to ask. If a restaurant does serve this fish, share this take-action toolbox and ask them to take the pledge as well.

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