Endangered Species Caused by Illegal Fishing: Blue Finned Tuna
Have you ever been in a sushi place or do your family members mostly prefer sea food as a main dish? Or have you ever thought how the fish ended up in your plate on a first place? Or maybe you have wondered how the specific fish is born eat survive only to be caught and brought to your table as a food. Seafood industry is very important because it provides not only with food to our tables but also provides millions of people with jobs. “Fish are a significant source of protein in diets around the world and Americans alone consume an estimated 5 billion pounds of seafood a year. But can we trace the legality of our fish from bait to plate? (World Wide Life). We can’t guess if the fish in our plate was caught legally or not. Illegal fishing causes a lot of harm to the ocean since many fishes that are caught illegally are endangered such as bluefin tuna. One of the important species that is endangered is a very important fish called “bluefin tuna”.
The largest of the Tuna species is Thunnus thynnus same as the Atlantic bluefin tuna. Bluefin Tuna is mostly inhabited in Mediterranean Sea and North Atlantic Ocean. Bluefin tunas are endotherms which means they can maintain their body temperature and this feature is very important since it lets them to swim from pelagic to mesopelagic areas which means from surface down to 3300 ft depth. Bluefin tunas are migrating during spawning season in winter they are mostly in Australia and migrate to Indian ocean.
Bluefin tuna is a bony fish which means that the skeleton is made of bones which makes them much stronger but also much heavier in weight. “Historically reaching weights of up to 2000 pounds (900 kg) and lengths of nearly 13 feet (4 m), the Atlantic bluefin tuna is the largest tuna” (Oceana). This makes it harder to move and float because it requires more energy. Atlantic bluefin tuna has a fusiform body and they have countershading which is a coloration that is formed for protection. Countershading is for pelagic fishes mostly a darker or lighter ventral side and the opposite. This helps them to escape from predators from both outside of the water and inside of the water. Looking from upper side (dorsal) side it is dark and makes it harder for predators who come from outside of the water to see them. Lighter belly (ventral) side is for predator coming from down and makes it harder to see them since there is a lot of light coming from up.
The reproduction in bluefin tunas is once a year which is also one of the reasons it is vulnerable and endangered. Tunas are gonochoristic which means they have separate sexes. The female bluefin can reproduce more than 10,000 eggs but only few of them survive to become adults. (Gago185-187)
According to “WWF” bluefin is also important for balancing the marine environment. And this is because they are major marine predators to the smaller species. Imagine how the world would look like without humans in it? Trees all over the planet, more dangerous animals, more molding funguses. This means the world would be different without humans in it. And this makes human important animal for balancing the environment. Same goes to marine environment, species eat one another to get nutrition but that is also how they are balancing the environment. If a fish has one predator and that predator disappears the count of that specie will go up rapidly. And this is how bluefin becomes important in marine ecosystem. Bluefin is an important predator for pelagic bony fishes. Bony fishes feed on smaller fishes and marine worms and marine worms eat fungi, algae, diatoms. This is a food chain related to one another and by disappearance of one the others will be imbalanced. This is why I think bluefin tunas are very important species in marine ecosystem.
Besides being important in marine ecosystem bluefin tunas are important source of protein for humans too. Which is the reason for many people to buy them in the markets. The EFSA assessment in 2015 research shows that Bluefin tuna is a good for heart and can even prevent cardiovascular disease. Besides, the research shows despite bluefin consuming a lot of toxic food it is considered harmless for human consumption if consumed in right amounts. (Giuseppa)
This is one of the major reasons that bluefin is overfished.
Oceans provide food to over 2,6 billion people whose main diet is seafood. Some of the popular foods are sashimi and sushi in Japanese kitchen. According to Howmuchisit.org this fish is very demanded in Korean kitchen for raw dishes, and more than 80% of caught bluefin is consumed in Japan. Also the website states that almost $117,000 was spent on bluefin in 2015 for only 441 pounds by a sushi chain store which confirms that bluefin is very demanded in Japanese kitchen. But this doesn’t mean that only Japanese people consume bluefin. According to WWF Americans alone consume 5billion pounds of seafood yearly which is an intolerable amount. And the more shocking fact is that “report finds more than 85% of global fish stocks in our oceans are at significant risk of illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing” (WWF). This is very sad to know that some people continue illegal fishing of bluefin knowing very well that it is highly endangered to almost extinct.