Atlantic Bluefin Tuna are one of the mightiest fish in the ocean, a thousand-pound silver bullet capable of accelerating faster than a Porsche and maintaining swimming speeds of over 40 mph. They can navigate across thousands of miles and are one of the only warm-blooded fish ever to swim through the seas. But all these adaptations do little to protect the species from our insatiable appetite.
The growing demand for high-end sushi and the utter failure of management has driven 70% declines in the Eastern Atlantic Bluefin population and over 80% declines in the Western stock over the past few decades.
But as long as people continue to pay big money for a little slice of fish, fishermen will keep fishing, the industry will keep trading, and the Atlantic Bluefin will march ever- closer to extinction—especially when high-end sushi restaurants like Nobu continue to put Bluefin on the menu.
Their excuse? That Bluefin is part of a cultural heritage of sushi and they cannot simply stop serving it. Trouble is, it’s not true. Bluefin is a relatively new addition to the menu, and its red meat was in fact despised by sushi elite in the days before refrigeration.
Nobu tries to pass the buck of responsibility to their customers by printing a warning on their menus, but it’s Nobu who buys the fish from the dealers, ultimately promoting the trade.
With regional management a failure, and efforts this spring to ban the international trade squashed (mostly by Japan, which buys 80% of all Bluefin caught), and the Gulf oil spill devastating one of only two breeding grounds for Atlantic Bluefin, time is running out for this species.
Let Nobu know there can be no more excuses: it’s time to take Bluefin tuna off the menu.
I am aware that in the past, organizations such as Greenpeace, have worked to provide you with information about the severely threatened status of this species. Today the threats are even greater, as the Gulf oil spill devastates one of only two breeding grounds for Atlantic Bluefin, and efforts to corral juveniles for fattening pens continue unabated, denying populations of any chance for reproduction.
Now, more than ever, Bluefin tuna need more than words of warning —they need swift action to curtail their precipitous decline.
There can be no more excuses. We now know that Bluefin is not a long-standing traditional sushi item, but rather a phenomenon of recent history. You have a unique opportunity now to set a more sustainable course for the future and send a strong message to all your colleagues in the industry: no more Bluefin for dinner.
I look forward to watching the ethics of your company rise to the high-end status of your cuisine.