Paul Greenberg’s New York Times op-ed on the deep depletion of bluefin tuna, that mighty last buffalo of the sea, struck a nerve. The ocean is a much lonelier place without the fall run of giant fish hundreds of pounds in weight, swimming through the ocean like speeding automobiles. And the acres of “small” tuna (under 100 pounds), were a source of high excitement every autumn and year-long anticipation. As a wildlife experience, nothing near New York came close. As an eating experience, few things in the world came close. Now, forget it. What didn’t get eaten here got eaten in Japan, and for all practical purposes they’re gone. Last year American fishers could catch only about 10 percent of their quota, and this year the fishing is worse. The insanity of the price in Japan keeps fishing pressure high worldwide (the record wholesale price for one fish auctioned in Tokyo was over $170,000 for one fish). But most galling, our government’s fisheries service, while belatedly calling for a moratorium in the eastern half of the Atlantic, still allows boats to fish in the Gulf of Mexico while the last remaining giant fish are breeding there. They’re not allowed to keep more than one giant bluefin tuna per trip, so many get killed on the fishing gear and wasted. To other countries, that must seem hypocritical. It does to me. Those last breeding buffalo of the sea need protection immediately, and that’s something our government could do tomorrow.
Greenberg’s op-ed is at: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/11/04/opinion/nyregionopinions/04CIgreenberg.html?_r=1&oref=slogin