Declining bluefin tuna stocks have been in the news with growing frequency, and have also been the subject of a number of my blog entries over the past year (see Troubles for Tuna). When any species faces potential extinction it becomes a grave issue, but the popularity of this fish makes any news pertinent to sushi lovers around the world.

Today there is an update on the situation. The news is good and bad. The European Union today banned bluefin tuna fishing in the Mediterranean and eastern Atlantic ocean for the remainder of the year. EU fisherman have already caught the 2007 quota (16,779 tonnes) and the world will now have to rely on the remaining stock of frozen and stored bluefin tuna to satisfy our sushi and sashimi requirements. “Clearly there are problems both of overfishing a stock already threatened with collapse and of equity between the member states concerned,” EU Fisheries Commissioner Joe Borg was quoted as saying.

While this is not gong to be the magic bullet that will allow bluefin tuna stocks to come back from being over fished, it is certainly a step in the right direction as the worldwide population of the fish that gives us maguro, toro, and akamai continues to dwindle. Your toro may be a little more expensive over the next six months, but at least you will still have some for years to come as long as we responsibly harvest these fish.

Bluefin tuna are one of the most popular fish on the menu, and so far we are unable to raise them in ‘fish farms,’ as we do with some other species. Aquaculture has become big business for many countries, but unlike our domesticated terrestrial species, fish do not necessarily adapt well to dormitory life. Yellowtail (hamachi) is one fish that has become an aquaculture success story, but bluefin tuna are still free range for the foreseeable future. While attempts are being made to create the necessary environment to farm bluefin tuna, there are no commercial ventures that have met with any success. While this move by the European Union is good news, only by raising awareness to the plight of the tuna will we be able to ensure the survival of the species, and keep us in toro heaven.

Meshi agare!
Warren
The sushi guy

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