Safina on tuna

The drama over bluefin tuna certainly bears watching. Yesterday (see previous blog post) the U.S. announced its support for a ban on international trade.

Today, in the prestigious online journal, Yale 360, Carl Safina weighs in. He wrote the initial proposal for a ban that was introduced in 1992. "This time, things are different," he writes. "The plight of fisheries is much more widely known, the scale of the fishing enterprise more ghastly, the fish more depleted, the effects on small-scale fishing interests (which might otherwise be catching bluefin tuna in a sustainable fishery) more acute. And with a world economy brought to the brink of collapse by greedy excess, the image of Japanese bankers gnawing bits of flesh from a fish costing $175,000 is no longer a vicarious curiosity, but rather distinctly less palatable."

And so, support for a ban is growing. Here's how Safina thinks it would help: "Even if international trade is banned, bluefin tuna could still be caught and sold within any given country. But the fish are now sufficiently scarce that without Japan’s prices, many boats would turn unprofitable and give up. The fish could recover, and a more sustainable fishery develop."

Safina is president of the Blue Ocean Institute. (The website includes a sushi guide.) Safina also is an adjunct professor at Stony Brook University and a MacArthur Fellow. He is the author of Song of the Blue Ocean and Eye of the Albatross.