The Sustainability of Western Atlantic Bluefin Tuna: A Warm-blooded Fish in a Hot-blooded Fishery
The Atlantic bluefin tuna, Thunnus thynnus (Linnaeus, 1758), is one of the most valuable animals in the world. Weighing as much as 700 kg and able to swim at over 90 km h−1, it is regarded by many as the consummate game fish. It is also highly esteemed among connoisseurs of sashimi, particularly in Japan where one 200 kg specimen recently commanded almost US$174,000. Not surprisingly, the bluefin tuna population in the western Atlantic has declined to a fifth of its former biomass, yet the fisheries for it remain lucrative. Some see this as a recipe for disaster reminiscent of elephant ivory and rhinoceros horns —but others see only a resilient species temporarily stymied by poor environmental conditions. Still others say the bluefin caught in the western Atlantic are part of a much larger pan-Atlantic stock and that the real problem is unregulated fishing in the eastern Atlantic. This paper discusses these and other contentious issues that govern the "sustainability" of western Atlantic bluefin tuna in today's unquenchable markets. It also examines how new technologies are being used to unveil the mysteries that for decades have enshrouded bluefin management policies in controversy.
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Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: 01 April 2005
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