The bluefin tuna, one of the world’s most remarkable ocean creatures, is in trouble and needs your help. Overfishing is driving this mighty warm-blooded fish toward the brink of extinction, and yet many sushi restaurants continue to serve it.
The Bluefin Brigade was founded by the Center for Biological Diversity on November 30, 2010, to reduce consumer demand for imperiled bluefin tuna — and now, more than 30,000 people and a growing list of restaurants have joined us. Please sign our pledge today not to eat bluefin tuna and to boycott restaurants that advertise it on their menu. Then read our FAQ to get more informed, download our Bluefin Boycott poster to spread the word and sign up for future alerts about how you can help save species.
Too often viewed only as sushi, the bluefin tuna is an extraordinary specimen of ocean wildlife, growing up to 10 feet long and sometimes weighing more than 1,000 pounds. Unlike almost all fish, bluefin tuna are warm-blooded and able to regulate their body temperature, which helps during their epic journeys across the ocean. 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 up to 50 miles per hour and are capable of crossing oceans in the course of only a few weeks.
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Unfortunately, due to its popularity as sushi, its high commercial value and its habit of crossing international boundaries, the bluefin is being severely overfished and is at risk of extinction.
In January 2013 scientists released an assessment that estimated a 96.4 percent decline of Pacific bluefin tuna from unfished levels. Catch limits were implemented for the first time in the eastern Pacific Ocean in 2012, but they're not enough to protect bluefin. Since 1970, western Atlantic bluefin tuna have declined by about 70 percent due to overfishing. Halfway through a 20-year government “rebuilding program” for the severely depleted population, there were barely any more fish than at the beginning of the program. In the eastern Atlantic, the majority of the decline has occurred in the past 10 years as they’ve been caught, without regulatory oversight, for fish farming.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature lists both the Atlantic and the southern bluefin tuna as endangered or critically endangered on its “Red List” of imperiled species. The Pacific bluefin tuna was listed of “least concern” based on the poor information available before the assessment released in January 2013, which concluded that Pacific bluefin tuna are severely overfished.
In spring 2010, the western Atlantic bluefin tuna took a hit at the height of its spawning season: Scientists estimate that BP’s massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico killed between 10 and 20 percent of juvenile western Atlantic bluefin tuna . That estimate doesn’t consider the expected long-term negative effects of the oil spill in the tuna’s breeding habitat. In 2011 the National Marine Fisheries Service added Atlantic bluefin tuna to the “species of concern” list and planned to reevaluate the effects of the oil spill on Atlantic bluefin tuna in early 2013, in order for more information to be available, and to then consider listing Atlantic bluefin tuna under the Endangered Species Act.
Sadly, bluefin tuna remains a prized menu item in some restaurants. The sushi market keeps prices for tuna high — a single tuna sold for an astonishing $1.7 million in early 2013 — and encourages illegal and unreported fishing. Despite outcry from concerned people, many sushi restaurants across the globe continue to serve bluefin. One common question: How can you tell if the tuna you are ordering is bluefin? The best way to tell is to check the menu and ask. Another broad rule of thumb: If it’s expensive, it could be bluefin.