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Sushi-cide tragedy. Eat bluefin tuna (97% gone) to extinction? Oceans at our mercy. We have a choice...

By WcP.Observer - Posted on 31 March 2010

Sushi-cide blue fin tuna tragedy: 97% already gone. Eat it to extinction? Man-made catastrophe. Oceans at our mercy. Choose.
Unfortunately for blue fin tuna, ‘it is highly prized for its meat - a single fish recently sold in Tokyo for 16.28 million yen - around 250,000 New Zealand dollars.’
chart about high mercury levels found in tuna sushi in New York stores and restaurants


The Economist magazine calls CITES suppress- ion of debate on bluefin tuna dis- honorable: IT WAS a moment of some drama when delegates assembled in Doha came to vote on a ban in the trade in bluefin tuna on March 18th. The previous evening many represent- atives of the 175 member nations of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) had been at a reception at the Japanese embassy. Prominent on the menu was bluefin tuna sushi. On the agenda the next day at the CITES meeting was a proposal to list the bluefin tuna as sufficiently endangered that it would qualify for a complete ban in the trade of the species (The Economist supports such a ban).

The complex proposal called for further discussion of the bluefin tuna’s plight. Europe, the United States, Monaco and Norway were hoping to move to an adjournment, which would have allowed a proper investigation of the issues over the weekend. Kevern Cochrane, the representative from the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), agreed. He also acknowledged that the official FAO panel had decided that the species met the scientific criteria for listing as a sufficiently endangered species qualifying for a trade ban--the bluefin tuna population has dropped below 15% of its maximum historical level.

At this stage, eyewitnesses report that the Libyan delegation made an unusual intervention. According to David Allison of OCEANA, a marine charity, the Libyan delegate started “screaming and calling everyone liars…He said the science was no good and that it was part of a conspiracy of developed countries. It was theatre. Then he stopped screaming and called for an immediate vote”. Another witness, Sergi Tudela, a fisheries expert with the WWF, agreed. “The Libyan representative accused the FAO of serving political interests and said there was no scientific basis for the listing.”

After this the talking stopped. The call for a ban, proposed by Monaco, was put to an immediate vote using a procedural ploy and rejected with 68 votes against, 20 in favour and 30 abstentions. The Americans, in particular, are disappointed. A number of agencies had been working hard to prepare for the meeting, none more so than the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The NOAA responded to the vote by committing to ensure that the organisation which currently manages bluefin tuna (albeit woefully) would implement fully its commitments and would continue to try to reduce fishing levels in line with scientific advice. The Japanese, however, will be delighted. The country has been lobbying hard against the ban for some time.

The outlook for the bluefin tuna is not good. Scientists already agree that the population is crashing, and that quotas allocated to fishermen remain too generous to give any reasonable degree of certainty of a recovery. The extent to which illegal fishing can be brought under control will also have a big impact on whether the population has a chance of recovering. It is technically possible that bluefin tuna could be put back on the agenda before the meeting closes on March 25th, but this it is unlikely to happen. It seems likely that a fresh attempt to list bluefin tuna will have to wait until the next CITES meeting in three years time.

That may be too late for the bluefin tuna. Libya has used a procedural ruse to force a vote without any substantial discussion of the scientific, technical or economic issues. It has sidestepped the only public forum that exists to discuss whether action is needed to save a species that is being fished, traded and eaten to extinction. Had the discussion taken place before a vote to reject the trade ban, this would at least have counted as an honourable victory.

BBC: 18 March 2010, a proposal to ban international trade in Atlantic bluefin tuna, which is a sushi mainstay in Japan, has been rejected by a UN wildlife meeting in a secret ballot. Scientists and campaigners working with conservation organisations were disappointed with the outcome. Tom Strickland, US delegation, "today's vote was a setback for the Atlantic bluefin tuna."

Thursday's decision occurred after Japan, Canada and many poor nations opposed the measure on the grounds it would devastate fishing economies.

Monaco tabled the plan at the meeting of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).

Stocks have fallen by about 85% since the industrial fishing era began. Monaco argued that the organisation responsible for managing the bluefin fishery - the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (Iccat) - had not implemented measures strict enough to ensure the species' survival.

BBC: Roberto Mielgo calls himself an independent fisheries consultant. A former tuna rancher himself, he had a change of heart and became one of the most prominent campaigners for the preservation of bluefin tuna, one of the most highly-prized - and fought over - species and foodstuffs in the world. "The Japanese market eats 80% of all the eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean bluefin tuna that is produced," Mr Mielgo says, "if you ask me whether to save the stock or to save some jobs, my answer is pretty clear - save the stock."

Fishing lobby - The fact that the United Nations commission set up to preserve endangered species failed, at its conference in Doha this week, to put an international trade ban on this type of tuna is a bitter disappointment to him. But, he says, it is not necessarily a surprise, given the strength of the global fishing lobby.

"The Japanese market eats 80% of all the eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean bluefin tuna that is produced," Mr Mielgo says. "They are willing to pay the highest price. It is just normal that tuna ranches here in Europe export their very best to the other side of the world. "If you ask me whether to save the stock or to save some jobs, my answer is pretty clear - save the stock."

Digital Journal: Bluefin tuna not protected after Canada sides with Japan. Gail Shea, Minister of Canada's Fisheries and Oceans provoked debate across Canada Friday after she backed Japan's stance on continuing to fish the endangered bluefin tuna. The UN's Convention on Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) voted on March 18 against protecting the endangered Bluefin Tuna, a fish species prized as the top sports fish due to its size. CBC News said Gail Shea applauded the decision by CITES for being the right decision.

Bluefin tuna stocks have declined by 80% in the past hundred years, prompting the proposal to ban fishing of the species. Monaco had proposed the ban that was voted down. The head of Monaco's delegation to CITES, Patrick Van Klaveren, warned the Sydney Morning Herald the decision to continue fishing the tuna means the end of the species.

''It will not be [the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species] that is the ruin of professional [fisheries]. It will be nature that lays down the sanction, and it will be beyond appeal.''

Kay Pierre (Author): Why you need to stop eating sushi - raw sushi have the potential for more worms and tapeworms problems - Sushi is not a healthy food anymore after I’ve read several articles on customers getting long tapeworm after eating sushi. One man from Chicago got a 9 foot tape worm after eating fresh fish sushi. He sued the restaurant for $100, 000. The tape worm could have grown to be 25 foot. Imagine a 9 foot worm inside of your body. It’s not a pleasant feeling walking around your town knowing that you have a 9 foot tape worm inside of your body. Another woman from Arizona got a worm inside of her brain that caused her a lot of problems. When you have a worm inside of your brain cells, you can become disabled after the worm eats off your brain cells.

The brain is a center for the whole body function and if a worm is feeding off of it then you will suffer greatly. Imagine walking around with a worm inside of your brain, it’s not a good feeling. The surgery would cost a lot of money too. This one particular woman got it off of her brain via surgery. The story was fascinating because it wasn’t an accident; someone contaminated the food on purpose with feces according to ABC news. The feces were contaminated with the worm and this woman ate it. I think it’s horrendous to have someone contaminate the food with feces. I was hoping that this one lady would go back and see which restaurant it is or home so she could report them. It’s unfortunate that there are some restaurants out there that will be very unsanitary.

If you don’t like the way a restaurant look then you shouldn’t eat there. I was shock to read her story. How could anyone ever do that? They obviously knew how to harm people. I think that raw sushi have the potential for more worms and tapeworms problems. I think that people should not eat sushi even though there are sushi restaurant out there. You can eat the rice sushi but don’t eat raw fish or any other seafood. It doesn’t look healthy. It’s a health hazard to eat raw fish. Chef said that raw sushi have the potential for parasites. All it takes is cooking to kill off the parasites. This is why cooked meat and fish are healthier than raw meat and fish. You should eat more cooked meat than raw meat or fish. If you’re going to eat sushi, you should at least dip it in hot water or kill off the parasite with lemon. Sushi is not the best when it comes to health.

Juliet Eilperin (Washington Post Staff Writer): Proposals to limit trading of fish rejected at global conference. Japan campaigned vigorously against the measures. The night before officials from 175 countries in Doha, Qatar, were to decide whether the world should stop trading Atlantic bluefin tuna to halt its precipitous decline, the Japanese ambassador hosted a reception for a select group of delegates at his residence. On the menu was one of his nation's most coveted delicacies: bluefin sushi and sashimi. And the next day, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) voted to allow trading of bluefin tuna to continue across the globe, unchecked.

The world's largest conservation conference, which ended Thursday, provided new protections for everything from an Iranian salamander to Latin American tree frogs and a rare beetle. But it also made one thing clear: When it comes to valuable marine species, protection has its limits.

The unique attributes of marine life -- that these species cross national boundaries and provide sustenance and profits for countries large and small -- make them harder to regulate than land species. And despite a concerted push by activists and the Obama administration, environmentalists were not able to overcome the stiff opposition of delegates who see fishing restrictions as a threat to their nations' socioeconomic fabric.

"CITES was always a place where countries came together and based on science, restricted trade for the sake of conservation," said Susan Lieberman, who directs international policy for the Pew Environment Group and has attended the conference since 1989. "This time, they restricted conservation for the sake of trade."

Delegates rejected every proposal for trade restrictions on commercially valuable marine species -- including ones on bluefin tuna, the polar bear, and multiple species of coral and sharks. On Thursday they overturned the one trade restriction they had imposed on porbeagle sharks earlier in the week.

Japan campaigned vigorously against the measures, and several small coastal nations said protections would impose too heavy an economic and regulatory burden on them.

New York Times: High Mercury Levels Are Found in Tuna Sushi. Tuna sushi is a popular item in New York but may be risky. Most of the restaurants in the survey said the tuna The Times had sampled was bluefin. “Mercury levels in bluefin are likely to be very high regardless of location,” said Tim Fitzgerald, a marine scientist for Environmental Defense, an advocacy group that works to protect the environment and improve human health. “Mercury levels in bluefin are likely to be very high regardless of location,” said Tim Fitzgerald, a marine scientist for Environmental Defense, an advocacy group that works to protect the environment and improve human health.

Most of the restaurants in the survey said the tuna The Times had sampled was bluefin.
In 2004 the Food and Drug Administration joined with the Environmental Protection Agency to warn women who might become pregnant and children to limit their consumption of certain varieties of canned tuna because the mercury it contained might damage the developing nervous system. Fresh tuna was not included in the advisory. Most of the tuna sushi in the Times samples contained far more mercury than is typically found in canned tuna.

Over the past several years, studies have suggested that mercury may also cause health problems for adults, including an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and neurological symptoms. No government agency regularly tests seafood for mercury.

Tuna samples from the Manhattan restaurants Nobu Next Door, Sushi Seki, Sushi of Gari and Blue Ribbon Sushi and the food store Gourmet Garage all had mercury above one part per million, the “action level” at which the F.D.A. can take food off the market. (The F.D.A. has rarely, if ever, taken any tuna off the market.) The highest mercury concentration, 1.4 parts per million, was found in tuna from Blue Ribbon Sushi. The lowest, 0.10, was bought at Fairway.

When told of the newspaper’s findings, Andy Arons, an owner of Gourmet Garage, said: “We’ll look for lower-level-mercury fish. Maybe we won’t sell tuna sushi for a while, until we get to the bottom of this.” Mr. Arons said his stores stocked yellowfin, albacore and bluefin tuna, depending on the available quality and the price. At Blue Ribbon Sushi, Eric Bromberg, an owner, said he was aware that bluefin tuna had higher mercury concentrations. For that reason, Mr. Bromberg said, the restaurant typically told parents with small children not to let them eat “more than one or two pieces.” Koji Oneda, a spokesman for Sushi Seki, said the restaurant would talk to its fish supplier about the issue. A manager at Sushi of Gari, Tomi Tomono, said it warned pregnant women and regular customers who “love to eat tuna” about mercury levels. Mr. Tomono also said the restaurant would put warning labels on the menu “very soon.”

Scientists who performed the analysis for The Times ran the tests several times to be sure there was no mistake in the levels of methylmercury, the form of mercury found in fish tied to health problems. The work was done at the Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences Institute, in Piscataway, a partnership between Rutgers and the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School.

Above chart: high mercury levels found in tuna sushi in New York stores and restaurants referred imprecisely to what the Environmental Protection Agency deems to be an acceptable level of mercury consumption over a period of several months by an adult of average weight. The agency uses the phrase “reference dose” to refer to the daily level of mercury consumption it considers acceptable for a long-term diet; it does not use the phrase “weekly reference dose.” (To find the acceptable weekly level of consumption over the long term, the reference dose is multiplied by seven.)

NZ to increase catch of critically endangered bluefin tuna. Many of our commercial fisheries still rely on bottom trawling, one of the most destructive forms of fishing there is, and numerous stocks have been fished to collapse, including three of our eight orange roughy stocks. Bad as it is though, things have just reached a new low. The bluefin tuna fishery is collapsing right before our eyes. The species is listed as critically endangered yet the NZ Ministery of fisheries is not only allowing the fishery to continue, but proposing to increase the quota!

Meet the bluefin tuna - Reaching over 4 meters in length, a weight of almost 700 kilograms and able to sprint faster than a racehorse, the bluefin tuna is king of the ocean. Unfortunately for the tuna, it is also highly prized for its meat - a single fish recently sold in Tokyo for 16.28 million yen – around 250,000 New Zealand dollars.

With a price like that on its head, it is no wonder bluefin is in trouble. Northern bluefin tuna, fished mainly in the Mediterranean Sea, is listed as endangered. Here in the south the smaller (if you can really call a 2.5 meter fish “small”) southern bluefin tuna has reached ‘critically endangered’ status. Which basically means it is knocking on extinction’s door.

Meet their managers. The Commission for the Conservation of Southern Bluefin Tuna, or “CCSBT” - an organisation that is patently failing to live up to its own name. The latest science presented by the organisation’s scientific committee revealed that the stock has fallen to an alarming 5% of its un-fished levels.

The first thing you would expect for a critically endangered species is that you’d stop hunting them. Not always the case in our oceans though. In a half-hearted attempt to halt the decline – but still acknowledging that under their plan the population is likely to fall even further in the short term – the CCSBT last year agreed a paltry 20% cut in fishing. And where was NZ in all of this?

The NZ representatives were there alright – making sure our fishing industry can catch MORE critically endangered tuna, with a 25% INCREASE in the Total Allowable Catch.

Frank Pope (ocean correspondent for Fish don’t recognise borders and boundaries. Yet one nation, Japan, by its cynical use of political power is robbing the world of a shared resource. The truth is far more shocking. All fingers of blame point directly at Japan. The high value of bluefin tuna — a single specimen can reach £112,000 — led it to orchestrate a full-scale campaign against proposals to ban trade in the species. Diplomatic missions were sent to developing nations to bully them into agreeing with Japan’s conviction that fish cannot be endangered.

When is an endangered species not an endangered species? When it lives in the sea, apparently. Despite continuing carnage in the ocean, marine creatures were refused any protection at the United Nations conference on trade in wildlife that ended yesterday in Doha, Qatar.

Tigers, rhinos and elephants are all better protected after the meeting of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). But hammerhead sharks, bluefin tuna and other marine species should be quaking in their skins. For when it comes to fish, the world has decided that scientific evidence of imminent demise is not reason enough to defend them against overexploitation.

The conflict between trade and conservation is nothing new, but it is pretty well established that if you let trade in wildlife run rampant, soon there will be nothing left to sell. That is why the UN set up CITES in the first place.

So why did fish get such a raw deal? Is it that we care less about life that is so very different from us? Do the emotionless eyes of fish leave our hearts cold? Is it an extension of the convenient myth that fish feel no pain?

The truth is far more shocking. All fingers of blame point directly at Japan. The high value of bluefin tuna — a single specimen can reach £112,000 — led it to orchestrate a full-scale campaign against proposals to ban trade in the species. Diplomatic missions were sent to developing nations to bully them into agreeing with Japan’s conviction that fish cannot be endangered.

That way of thinking is grounded in ignorance. The oceans long seemed infinite in their capacity to produce such riches, and any sign that this was not so was hidden by our inability to peer into the depths. Science has now stripped back the veil and revealed the extent of the depletion. It is this science that Japan and its allies have chosen to not to see.

Unfortunately for life in the sea, Japan’s campaign made waves far beyond the bluefin. Sharks are in dire trouble thanks to China’s appetite for using their fins in soup. About 73 million sharks are killed each year as a result, and sharks don’t reproduce fast. But far from favouring a ban, nations voted against even the most basic monitoring of the trade.

Red and pink corals have now all but vanished from the Mediterranean and are being stripped from the Pacific, but proposals to control that trade were also swept away.

Fish don’t recognise borders and boundaries. Yet one nation, Japan, by its cynical use of political power is robbing the world of a shared resource.

Scientific American: Extinction Countdown. Sushi-cide: Secret ballot kills hopes for bluefin tuna protections. As I've written here before, populations of Atlantic bluefin tuna (Thunnus thynnus) have dropped 97 percent since 1960, but the tasty fish remains in high demand in Japan, where sushi bars are willing to pay up to $100,000 or more per fish. A possible CITES ban on bluefin tuna—supported by the U.S. and 27 European Union nations)—has been in the works for months. Japan, meanwhile, had already announced that it would not comply with such a ban if it were enacted.

"Japan, Canada and several members States of the Arab league opposed the proposal arguing that regional fisheries management organizations (RFMOs) as ICCAT [the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas] were best placed to tackle the decline of bluefin tuna stocks. They added that an Appendix I listing [which would ban trade in the species] would not stop the fishing of the species. After a passionate but relatively short debate, the representative of Libya requested to close the deliberations and go for a vote. Iceland called for a secret ballot. The amendment introduced by the European Union and Monaco's proposal were defeated (20 votes in favor, 68 against, 30 abstentions) in the middle of much confusion about the voting procedures and mixed feelings of satisfaction and frustration from participants."

Obviously, pro-tuna groups were not happy about this series of events. "It is scandalous that governments did not even get the chance to engage in meaningful debate about the international trade ban proposal for Atlantic bluefin tuna," said Sergi Tudela, head of fisheries for the WWF Mediterranean Programme Office, in a prepared statement.

TIME: I ate my last bite of bluefin tuna the other night. It came at SHO Shaun Hergatt, a luxurious restaurant in the Wall Street area known for its eponymous chef's penchant for using the best ingredients from around the world. The bluefin was no exception. Served on a pristine plate with fennel gelée, young ginger and artisanal soy, this was pure o-toro (bluefin belly), the pinnacle of fishly flesh, a barely dressed bombshell that exploded on my palate with incomparable taste and texture. It was awesome. But I have to stop eating it. And so do you.

The species might be gone within a few short years. The reason? Japan, the world's most tuna-loving nation, recently submarined a global export ban that nearly every industrialized nation had agreed to. Earlier this month, 175 nations met in Qatar to discuss the fates of various endangered species, with the U.S., Europe, all scientific opinion and the best interests of the fishing nations all on the side of a respite in commercial bluefin-tuna fishing. Japan orchestrated a campaign to defeat the proposal.

We diners have to do our part by refusing to order wild bluefin or even making our peace with a farmed tuna, if one ever make its way to the fish market. The loss of a creature that has been living here since before the continents formed won't be on my hands. Don't let it be on yours either.

*Update May 28, 2012*

Pacific bluefin tuna, near Ensenada, Mexico. Researchers have shown that similar tuna carried radiation from Fukushima, Japan, to California in 2011

Bluefin tuna caught off Calif. reveal radiation from Japan nuclear plant over 6,000 miles away
LOS ANGELES (AP) - Across the vast Pacific, the mighty bluefin tuna carried radioactive contamination that leaked from Japan's crippled nuclear plant to the shores of the United States 6,000 miles away - the first time a huge migrating fish has been shown to carry radioactivity such a distance.
"We were frankly kind of startled," said Nicholas Fisher, one of the researchers reporting the findings online Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

How Fukushima May Show Up in Your Sushi
Those looking for evidence of the March 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster in Japan may need search no further than their next plate of sushi, Stanford University researchers report.
The researchers tested 15 Pacific bluefin tuna that had migrated from Japan to the California coast and found that the levels of radioactive cesium in these fish were 10 times higher than those found in bluefin tuna from the years before the disaster.

Fukushima radiation seen in tuna off California
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Low levels of nuclear radiation from the tsunami-damaged Fukushima power plant have turned up in bluefin tuna off the California coast, suggesting that these fish carried radioactive compounds across the Pacific Ocean faster than wind or water can.

Pacific bluefin tuna carried radioactivity from Japan’s 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster all the way across the ocean to the shores of California, scientists reported Monday.


Photos courtesy of Wikipedia, AFP, Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences Institute, and Chris Park / Associated Press

This blue fin tuna tastes the best among other fishes but the way its been utilized and people are loving to eat this in all kinds of menu. It has lead to the extinction of this big fish. I really hope now it's the time to save it from being extincted.

The facts are shocking. Every one knows that blue fin tuna is too popular as well as expensive and i really love to have it in my menu too. But it was surprising to know it's sold to 250000 dollars.But i feel sad for it's extinction.

The state of the Bluefin Tuna stock is not as severe as you claim. It has been fished to 25% of it's peak (as can be read in SCRS-the science body most knowledgeable about BFT).

Scientific data now shows some improvement in the stock, but the latest assessment is based on 2006 data.

So let's keep our chin up.

Why not make substitutes a choice rather than making the extinct meat more will always remain a delicacy though.We must adjust and try to compromise with the nature.

https://Manhattan Air Conditioning Service/">Manhattan Air Conditioning Service

Sea life is indeed coming to an extinction now-a-days. Its not only because of people eating sea food but because of the pollution being caused. The statistics shared in here by you have are indeed very shocking. Hope more people turn vegetarian so that the sea life can at least be preserved to a certain extent.

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