Take Two®

News and culture through the lens of Southern California. Hosted by A Martínez

The 'Lamborghini of tuna' doesn't make the endangered list — what's next for the bluefin?

by Take Two®

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A school of Bluefin Tuna. Tom Puchner/Flickr

A petition to designate the Pacific bluefin tuna was rejected earlier this week. This, despite estimates that the bluefin population is less than 3 percent of what it would be if fishing were curtailed.  

Catherine Kilduff is a senior attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity. She spoke with A Martinez to break down the efforts to save this fish.

Answers have been edited for brevity and clarity.

Not your basic tuna

"This tuna is the Lamborghini of tuna. Unlike other tuna that you might find in a can, this tuna performs a migration across the Pacific ocean...From the California coast, where it's born, to Japan. 

It feeds and can grow up to a thousand pounds and it makes its way back to Japan to spawn tens of millions of eggs. It can go up to 55 mph, even the Navy has looked at its aerodynamics to try to model some of their submarines on it. It's really an amazing fish."

Troubling numbers

"The fishery service that made the decision not to list it, says that there are about 1.6 million bluefin tuna out there. Internationally, we caught a high of six million fish as recently as 2007. Those numbers dropped off to about 1.2 million fish in 2014. 

But when you look at how many are mature, meaning that they can reproduce, that's only 140,000. So, our capacity for fishing greatly exceeds how many Pacific bluefin tuna are out there."

California's role

"California plays a really important role in the lifecycle of the Pacific bluefin tuna. If they are able to escape the nets on that side of the Pacific ocean, they come to California to feed...grow up big and fat and then go back to Japan to reproduce.

There's new information that a larger percentage of the Pacific bluefin tuna come to California than originally thought. And this isn't super surprising because a lot of highly migratory, charismatic animals like the Pacific leatherback sea turtle, they also come all the way across the ocean to feed off California. It's an incredibly rich productive resource, and we need to conserve it."

Kilduff's suggestion to help save the bluefin? Stop eating them.

To listen to the full segment, click the blue play button above.

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