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Posted by on Feb 2, 2012 in Environment, Fishing, UK, US |

World’s Most Expensive Bluefin Tuna: Edible, or Endangered?

A single fish sells for $736,000, while some scientists say the bluefin could go extinct.

A new record was set for the world’s most expensive fish, a bluefin tuna which was recently auctioned off in Tokyo for an astounding $736,000. That works out to almost $100 bucks per piece, for those of you with an uber-expensive palette. Kiyoshi Kimura, the buyer of this bluefin, owns a sushi restaurant chain in Japan. There’s just one problem with this big-money maki: many scientists believe that the bluefin tuna is severely endangered, and could be fished to extinction within a matter of years.

Bluefin like this 100-pounder have become scarce; priced like the world’s most expensive fish, this finned critter would be worth over 100 grand.

Bluefin like this 100-pounder have become scarce; priced like the world’s most expensive fish, this finned critter would be worth over 100 grand.

The Obama administration decided not to add the fish to the endangered species list in 2011, saying it was not likely to become extinct. But this would seem to contradict its own assertions—a year earlier the United States backed an international effort to have the Atlantic bluefin protected under the United Nations Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species. The attempt was thwarted by lobbying from Japan, where an intense love affair with big bluefin is exemplified by the big bucks they’re willing to pay for individual fish. Meanwhile, the Center for Biological Diversity executive director Kieran Suckling responded to the decision by saying “The Obama administration is kowtowing to the fears of the U.S. fishing industry instead of following the science on this”. Yep, you guessed it: money trumps science, even when it comes to nibbling on Nemo.

Meanwhile, everyone does agree on one thing: the bluefin tuna population has plummeted in recent years. The International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas found that the eastern Atlantic stocks of this species has declined by about 80-percent in the past few decades, and the western Atlantic stock has declined by about 70 percent.

Meanwhile, lax enforcement of commercial fishing regulations overseas has recreational anglers in the US hopping mad, since they’ve seen their per-day catch limits drop from four fish to, at times, zero fish per day, in the past decade. That’s a shame, because when fish carry a value like this, catching one would almost make up for the fuel bill.

- Lenny Rudow