For Immediate Release, December 7, 2010
Contact: Catherine Kilduff, (415) 644-8580
20,000-plus People Boycott Bluefin Tuna, Restaurants That Serve It
Consumers in 50 States, 91 Countries Pledge to
Save Tuna Threatened by Sushi Demand
SAN FRANCISCO— More than 20,000 people have agreed to boycott bluefin tuna as part of the Center for Biological Diversity’s campaign to save this fish, driven to the brink of extinction to supply the sushi market. In the first week of the boycott, consumers from all 50 states and 91 countries signed a pledge not to eat bluefin or spend money at restaurants where it’s on the menu.
“By voting with their wallets, consumers are saving bluefin tuna by keeping it off their plates and steering clear of sushi restaurants with the rare fish on their menu,” said Catherine Kilduff, a staff attorney at the Center, which in May sought Endangered Species Act protections for Atlantic bluefin. “Eating bluefin tuna is handing out a death sentence to the last remaining survivors of this majestic marine species.”
Prized as a high-value dish at sushi restaurants, bluefin are being pushed to extinction by decades of overfishing. The western Atlantic stock of bluefin, for instance, has dropped by more than 80 percent since 1970. The eastern Atlantic stock dropped by 74 percent between 1957 and 2007. Still, bluefin remains on the menu of some restaurants. High market prices — a single bluefin tuna sold for $177,000 earlier this year — spur rampant illegal and unreported fishing.
“Bluefin tuna are on the path to extinction, yet overfishing continues. The international community has failed to protect bluefin, so thousands of consumers are now demanding action by boycotting the endangered fish,” Kilduff said. “Together, consumers and restaurant owners have a real chance to drastically reduce demand for this imperiled fish and keep it from slipping into oblivion.”
The boycott, launched Nov. 30, also calls on chefs and restaurant owners to sign a pledge not to buy or serve bluefin. Five restaurants in the United States that advertised bluefin tuna on their online menus in November, including Nobu in New York City, Las Vegas and Los Angeles, Sushitaro in Washington, D.C. and Kabuto Sushi in San Francisco, received hand-delivered requests to stop serving bluefin. As of this week, none of the five have stopped serving bluefin, although one restaurant, D.C.’s Sushitaro, no longer specifies online that its “fatty tuna” is bluefin.
Bluefin tuna are oceangoing fish that grow up to 10 feet long and can weigh 1,200 pounds. Unlike almost all other fish, they are warm-blooded and able to regulate their body temperature, which helps during their epic journeys across the Atlantic. Bluefin tuna are top ocean predators and sometimes hunt cooperatively, much like wolves. With streamlined bodies and retractable fins, they can bolt through the water at speeds of 50 mph and cross oceans in the course of only a few weeks.
The International Union for the Conservation of Nature classifies the western Atlantic bluefin tuna population and the southern bluefin tuna as critically endangered with an extremely high risk of extinction in the wild in the immediate future. IUCN classifies eastern Atlantic bluefin tuna as endangered, meaning that it faces a very high risk of extinction in the wild in the near future.
To learn more, visit bluefinboycott.org and share the Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/pages/Bluefin-Tuna-Boycott-Join-the-Bluefin-Brigade/107330386001726).
The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 315,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.