Although environmental campaigners and scientists have urged the Japanese government to change its fishing policies to help protect Bluefin tuna stock, Japan continues to move in a direction that will lead to extinction of one of the most prized fish species in the world. Approximately 80% of the worlds’ catch of Bluefin tuna is consumed in Japan. This is a problem because the government is reluctant to change policy as long as demand makes tuna fishing profitable. Japanese officials know that Bluefin tuna are endangered; yet they do not try to decrease consumption, or raise awareness in their country. Why? Because they can profit off of the declining numbers, as long as consumers stay hungry.
A giant corporation known mostly for their sports cars and electronics, Mitsubishi, holds a tight grasp of a 40% share in the world market for Bluefin tuna. This company is importing thousands and thousands of pounds of Bluefin tuna from the Mediterranean to Tokyo fish markets. They also have a massive freezer, where they have acquired a stock reserve of Bluefin tuna. This means that as the number of fish reaches a record low, the price of tuna meat will continue to rise. Mitsubishi will be able to greatly profit off of the extinction of Bluefin tuna because of their reserve stock.
The threat of overfishing in Japan has made the headlines in the last few years, but the severity of the damage is again being downplayed. The threat is overlooked everywhere, to the point where people who advocate a moratorium on Bluefin tuna fishing are seen as crazy environmentalists. However, the numbers do not lie. Recent studies show that the average tonnage of fish caught annually is four times greater than the amount recommended as sustainable by the scientific community. Bluefin tuna are considered “critically endangered,” a status shared by Black Rhinos and Sumatra Tigers. This is clearly a worldwide problem, one that can only be fixed through proper education and conservation. We must all change, what we eat, and how we live. We need more fish news.
Justin McCurry, “Warning over Pacific Bluefin tuna Stocks as Japan Meeting Ends in Stalemate,” Guardian, September 3, 2015, http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/sep/04/warning-over-pacific–tuna-stocks-as-japan-meeting-ends-in-stalemate.
“Mitsubishi Stocking Up On Bluefin Tuna,” Modern Progress Network, February 5, 2015, http://modernprogressnetwork.com/2015/02/05/mitsubishi-stocking-up-on-bluefin-tuna/.
Student Researcher: James Mugele (University of Vermont)
Faculty Evaluator: Rob Williams (University of Vermont)