Why the Atlantic bluefin tuna is in serious trouble

The Bluefin tuna was once the king of the seas. Living in large shoals and hunting together, Atlantic Bluefin are long-lived and highly migratory fish that can only be found throughout the Atlantic ocean.

Their only crime is that, to sushi eaters, they taste delicious. Before the 1960s, Bluefin tuna was only fished in small quantities; however, demand rose as the fish became a Japanese delicacy and was soon targeted heavily by commercial fisheries. Now it is on the brink of extinction, having been unsustainably fished for so long.


The causes of extinction

1. Overfishing

Over the past few decades, numbers of Bluefin tuna have decline due to commercial and also unregulated fishing. Illegal fishing of this animal means that no data is kept or analysed, and often even regulated fishery numbers are misinterpreted, making it incredibly difficult to gain the state of Bluefin in the wild.

2. Habitat degradation

Key habitats such as spawning grounds are crucial to species survival. When these fragile locations are hit by pollution and mismanagement, such as the oil spill from Deepwater Horizon in 2010, it can have huge knock-on effects for tuna survival.

3. Taking young fish

It’s not just taking an excess of fish that is an issue; it’s removing the fish that are too young to have had a chance to reproduce. Bluefin develop slowly, not reaching sexual maturity until five to eight years of age. When juvenile fish are removed from the water, he species has no hope of recovery.


Why save the Bluefin tuna?

Bluefin tuna are warm-blooded and able to regulate their body temperature – this is very unusual for a fish. The Bluefin is as comfortable in the icy waters of Iceland as in the warm waters of it tropical spawning grounds.

These ocean beasts can grow up to a whopping two metres (6.6feet) in length, and can live for up to 40 years. This species grows slowly, and gets to such a large size by hunting other fish, crustaceans, and ells voraciously, as well as feeding on smaller oceanic offerings such as plankton.

The bodies of Bluefin tuna are incredibly streamlined, and these fish are built for speed. The can even retract their fins to reduce drag, and are capable of reaching speeds of up to 70 kilometres (43 miles) per hour as they dart through the water.


What you can do
To help save the Bluefin, be vigilant about what tuna you eat. Always ask restaurants and fishmongers where they get their fish, and boycott Bluefin sourced from the Mediterranean. Fin out more at the link above.


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