Is this fish too expensive to save?

Yesterday the UN body charged with protecting the world’s endangered species, The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) strongly rejected an American call to ban the commercial fishing of the Blue Fin Tuna, which they claim is in serious decline, at a Doha Conference.  Most countries at the conference argued it should be managed by the fising nations involved in this trade and that stocks are sustainable with the right managment.

Can we protect all species? Is it inevitable that same species will become extinct?

Greenpeace campaigner Oliver Knowles calls it a disaster.

With a single fish being sold for US$175,000 earlier this year, is their monetary value just too attractive commercially?

Is it a case of blatant human greed that will see another species become extinct?

This blogger says it is.

Should we care?

The Japanese, who consume about 80% of all Atlantic Blue Fin Tuna caught, say it is an essential part of their cultural heritage to eat this fish in sushi.

Is it right for countries like the USA to ask the Japanese to change their diet to protect one fish?

Should culture and tradition be changed to help save endangered species?

25 Responses to “Is this fish too expensive to save?”

  1. 1 Ronald Almeida
    March 19, 2010 at 16:16

    Yes, especially when it tastes lousy.

  2. 2 steve
    March 19, 2010 at 16:55

    It’s pretty funny, when people whine and complain every 3rd year that one shark ate one person, when we kill off millions and millions of difference species of fish, simply out of greed. How many animals die so we can make furs out of them? How many animals die in our laboratories to test cosmetics and medications? How many land animals die so people can choose to eat meat?

    And we throw hissy fits when a bear eats a person, or a shark bites a person, given that we kill millions times more of them than they kill of us, and at least they kill out of hunger, not out of trying to make profits.

    If you need to see what is wrong with this world, it’s the people living on it.

  3. 4 teej
    March 19, 2010 at 17:08

    I wonder how the Japanese fed their fish habit before they access to the global oceans and markets? I suspect that the amounts they consume now is a slightly more “contemporary” tradition.
    This is another example of human selfishness, not wanting to give up another global resource we are raping. Is it too expensive now? wait another decide or so and see how expensive it will be then

  4. 5 Kate M.
    March 19, 2010 at 17:17

    What will happen when all the tuna are gone? How will they eat sushi then?

  5. 6 nora
    March 19, 2010 at 17:26

    Fishing the Blue Fin out of existence would be a Japanese national tragedy, so some strategy needs to apply. Saving eco-diversity seems wise. Education on the consumer end could lower the demand.

    • March 20, 2010 at 21:55

      One would think that the Japanese would think of conserving the blue fin tuna rather than consuming them at an alarming rate. If is so vital to their culture, why not preserve the fish so the future generation can partake in that culture. I think the Japanese are selfish and should be held responsible if this species goes extinct.

  6. 8 Cheshire Pete
    March 19, 2010 at 18:20

    The problem is the very nature of free enterprise. If you are a fisherman who catches bluefin, or hunts whales, or are a hunter of buffalo or rhinos, then to feed your family you must keep on hunting them. Assuming that in this overcrowded and depleted World there a few oportunities to change jobs.

    If you are a good fisherman, then the scarcer the quarry, the more it is worth when you catch it. So the person who can catch the last bluefin, or the last whale , or the last buffalo, is guaranteed to be rich. That is the nature of free competition. Why should I agree to limit my earnings, if everybody else is going to break the rules? As we have seen with the Norwegians re starting whaling because the Japanese have.

    If the World wants to stop people killling anything, they will have to pay people to stop, and have a massive policing service.

    The Japanese and the Chinese are culturally an absolute menace to many species. They will not stop hunting whales, or killing rare species, like tigers, because of their unscientific ideas about medicine and diet. The problem is that they have the population size and the money to deplete populations rapidly for profit.

    I’m afraid the passenger pigeon, the aurocks, and the bison(nearly) died out without even having the consolation of serving as a good example for conservation.

    • March 20, 2010 at 22:07

      Japan has the resources to create alternative jobs. It is not hard to educate fisherman about what they are doing and their impact on the marine ecosystem. If they taught proper conservatory methods, like growing tuna in farms, or creating a fishing season, then the numbers will significantly increase. This method sounds better than a laissez faire free-for-all approach.

      This preventative measure is not ludicrous or impractical, What it needs its a government that is militant enough to enforce laws banning or barring fishermen from the tuna, yet providing alternate jobs that can stimulate growth in the economy.

      As glamourous the selling prices of the blue fin tuna sounds, should we let greet deplete an entire species? what will happen when the whales and the tuna disappear?

  7. 10 steve
    March 19, 2010 at 18:43

    At one point, you’ll have to ask, what’s more important, diversity and cultural stuff, or the existence of species?

  8. 11 Thomas Murray
    March 19, 2010 at 20:38

    As a tuna eater, I was devastated to learn that 70 percent of the Blue Fin Tuna is GONE. That’s right! Seventy percent!

    No species is too expensive to save. I’m with Green Peace on this one. It’s well-known that the extinction of one species invariably means a domino effect of unintended environmental consequences.

    The only way out is for the Japanese to take the lead on conserving this resource.

    Good discussion topic! Wish I was in on this one.

    –Louisville, Kentucky, US.

  9. March 20, 2010 at 01:25

    “Is it right for countries like the USA to ask the Japanese to change their diet to protect one fish?” Heck no! Just think of the prestige that that Japanese person who eats the last bite of Blue Fin Tuna! He will be remembered forever!

    “The Japanese, who consume about 80% of all Atlantic Blue Fin Tuna caught, say it is an essential part of their cultural heritage to eat this fish in sushi.” Culture is soo important, and must be preserved to the bitter end! For example, the Haitians cut down all their trees to make charcoal for their little stoves. That was culture, and who are we to say “Don’t do that?”

  10. 13 claudine
    March 20, 2010 at 01:35

    Too expensive to save?

    Well, if the earnings with the meat of this fish are an important source of income….
    What will they do when the fish is gone for good?
    Die poor?

    People only think from the mouth to the edge of their plate and only what is today.

  11. 14 robert
    March 20, 2010 at 01:36

    Japanese will eat whatever they want. Look at whales and the bogus science of collecting tissue samples. They really just do not care. That’s the cultural heritage of Japan. When tuna is gone it’s gone. Like crude oil.

  12. 15 Subhash C Mehta
    March 20, 2010 at 06:56

    You said it–“the stocks are sustainable with right management”. Our future food requirement is going to see a lot more dependence on the sea-food; all the endangered species, including the blue-fin tuna fish, must be multiplied, and their consumption must be controlled and managed properly/discretely. This management must become an essential part & parcel of all our scientific study of the oceanic/marine life; the top priority should be about keeping and continuously updating the population record of as much marine life as possible. This will also help in comparing the data/figures, which will also serve the purpose of fore-warning on any endangering or likely extinction of any of the species enabling the concerned authorities/managements to take necessary remedial measures.

  13. 16 Cabe UK
    March 20, 2010 at 12:27

    Humans help themselves.
    Animals can’t – and even less so in a human dominated world!

    ‘Overhunting’ something is just laziness not to find an alternative. The Japanese plunder every other countries off-shore fishing space that surrounds them including New Zealand and beyond without a care. They don’t NEED Tuna for their Sushi, they don’t NEED Whalemeat for anything, the Chinese don’t NEED Elephant tusk for their coughs or Rhino horn to get it up – (I’m sure Viagra is cheaper to produce?) in this day and age there is an alternative to everything including fur, leather, bone, wood, plastic and some pretty good vegetarian substitutes….. what they need is to grow up and step up to conservation and take responsibility instead of acting like spoilt, selfish, arrogant children.
    They are a clever people, they excel in technology – why not put that clever technical scientific brain to finding alternatives for themselves? It’s not hard !

  14. 17 Joe Polly
    March 20, 2010 at 16:25

    All fish stocks require conservation immediately.

  15. 18 Guillermo
    March 20, 2010 at 20:29

    It is very silly to ask a millenarian culture like the japanese to change because USA says so. Do they don´t bite their tongue when almost dissapeared the
    buffalo? And also the natives that lived all around what is USA? The genocide and extermination of people and species is because rich gobble the poor.

  16. 19 gary indiana
    March 21, 2010 at 18:19

    So, should we abandon a species to the appetite of one nation? Well in fact, no one species is more significant than any other and besides, extinction is a common occurrence. One day it will be our turn. Since some people might wish to delay this, it could prove useful to learn the maintenance of this fish. The knowledge may useful in maintaining our own existence. However, doing so because the species is tasty is also a valid motive.
    To the specific question, the Japanese suggest they have a cultural prerogative. I suspect they are more concerned about their appetites and nights out in the sushi bars. Regardless, folks have rights to sustenance, just not exclusive rights to a particular entrée.

  17. 20 Tom D Ford
    March 22, 2010 at 00:09

    Hemingway wrote some words about why the bell tolls, something like “they don’t toll for the dead, they toll for you”.

    Blue Fin Tuna are not extinct yet but the bells sure are tolling.

  18. 21 Cabe UK
    March 22, 2010 at 11:37

    @ Subhash

    Nice idea Subhash, but the World can’t even agree on controlling climate change or deforestation so how would we get everyone to agree on conserving their bit of the sea?
    It looks like Tuna is fast coming to the point of no longer being both ‘controllable’ or unsustainable as a sea- food source – especially if you are right and the World does rely more and more on it’s oceans to feed it … ?

    = Then again, the only reason the World would do this is because they have already mismanaged the land and are now moving onto the sea to mismanage and plunder that as well… We are all guilty of ‘overhunding’ !
    The simplest and most productive way to manage our food resources, is to cut down the amount of meat we eat ! – – I know, most people don’t want to hear this – but If the world grows a GodZillion acres of crop to feed a Billion livestock who in turn, feeds a Million humans – then what’s the point? Cut out the livestock ! Then take those GodZillions of acres of crop and feed the World with it !?.

  19. 22 Cabe UK
    March 22, 2010 at 11:54

    @pdxmike – “… Culture is soo important, and must be preserved to the bitter end! For example, the Haitians cut down all their trees to make charcoal for their little stoves. That was culture, … ”

    Great points pdxmike – a great example as well is Easter Island!
    The population there plundered all the resources on their island until there was nothing left, and when they cut down their last tree for firewood, they died and disappeard forever. (no more food, fuel, no wood for boats to get off the island !)

    Human’s tend to be self involved and self motivated. Look at the words “… lest we forget.. ” to remind us of the error of war? The only time we remember these big lessons will be when it and nothing else is sitting on our plate.

  20. 23 Tom D Ford
    March 22, 2010 at 19:22

    “Is this fish too expensive to save?”

    The answer is embedded within in the question, if this fish is too expensive, it implies that:

    “This fish is too expensive to lose”!

    Severely restrict hunting of it until the stocks rebuild and then strictly regulate fishing of it so that it becomes sustainable.

  21. 24 patti in cape coral
    March 22, 2010 at 20:22

    $175,000 for one blue fin tuna??? I almost got a cerebral hemorrhage when I saw that number! I don’t understand why this is an issue at all. If we like it that much, or if the Japanese like it that much, it makes sense to conserve it so there is a supply in the future, right? Who could argue with that?

  22. 25 mark
    March 23, 2010 at 07:28

    tradition huh – so for hundreds of years japan has been fishing of the north american east coast?

    america was not trying to change japan it was trying to save tuna – big difference..

    the era of the flying fish should end..

    when will the people who supposedly represent us start standing up to other countries or corporations on environmental issues

    they know we want them to but are to busy chasing a dollar

    over here the aussie prime minister and environment minister are to gutless to stand up to japan on whaling

    governments just keep turning a blind eye and hope it will go away or fix itself or that something else will grab our attention and distract us


    brisbane australia : (

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