Sushi fanatics should know that their favorite Pacific bluefin tuna is nearing commercial extinction.
Recent data shows that the population of the popular sushi fish has declined by roughly 97% from its historic levels due to overfishing. Scientific assessments by the International Scientific Committee for Tuna and Tuna-like species in the North Pacific Ocean found the current “unfished” population to be at 2.6%, a drastic decrease from the already low 4.2% in a previous estimate.
Even with help and management of fisheries, the chances of getting the population back to a healthy level is only 0.1%. According to Time, reducing fishing by a fifth would increase that likelihood to 3%.
Director for Global Tuna Conservation at The Pew Charitable Trusts, Amanda Nickson, declared:
“The situation is really as bad as it appears.”
In certain regions, fisherman disregard the conservation warnings and catch bluefin tuna at three times the level thought to be sustainable. Nickson believes that drastic measures may need to be taken if change isn’t made soon. She said:
“If those managers again fail to act in a conservation-minded way this time, it may be time for other actions, such as an international trade ban or complete fishing moratorium.”
The country with the highest consumption of Pacific bluefin tuna is Japan where 80% of all bluefin tuna harvested worldwide is eaten. If the population of fish falls any more, sushi lovers everywhere may have to make do without their favorite tuna.