Pacific Bluefin Tuna Population Down 96 Percent, Study Finds

Overfishing has led to drastic decline in population

Contrary to popular belief, the Pacific bluefin tuna and Atlantic bluefin tuna are two completely different species. Also contrary to accepted wisdom, the Pacific population is in far worse shape than the Atlantic, and in far worse shape in general: in fact, it’s down a shocking 96.4 percent from unfished levels, according to a new study from The International Scientific Committee for Tuna and Tuna-Like Species in the North Pacific Ocean.

The report points out that one of the main reasons for the decline is because bluefin are being caught at a younger age than they have in previous years, before they’ve had time to spawn. It also points out that about 90 percent of bluefin caught these days are juveniles.

The vast majority of bluefin goes to sushi restaurants in Japan, where it’s one of the most prized offerings (the fatty belly, otoro, is generally one of the most expensive offerings). Just last week, a giant bluefin was sold for a record $1.76 million in Tokyo’s Tsukiji Market.

And while the fish has yet to be placed on the endangered species list because officials haven’t been able to get a fair reading, this study might help to seal the deal. 

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