© Brian Skerry / National Geographic Stock
When making healthy dinner choices these days, more and more people are turning to fish for a tasty, nutritious, low-calorie meal. But when it comes to the ocean’s health, there’s one species you should try your best to keep off your plate: Atlantic bluefin tuna.
It’s an item on many menus, served as steak and in sushi. But bluefin has become so popular conservationists worry that if stronger action isn’t taken, these top-of-the-food-chain giants of the sea—weighing up to 1,400 pounds—might soon disappear.
The latest assessment by the National Marine Fisheries Service confirmed that both the western and eastern Atlantic bluefin populations have been commercially fished below sustainable levels. In fact, in the western Atlantic, the population has plummeted a staggering 90 percent since the 1970s, according to the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas. And in another blow, last summer’s BP Deepwater Horizon oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico spewed oil in the middle of one of two of the species’ only spawning areas.
Efforts to ban commercial trade in Atlantic bluefin floundered last
summer at the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) despite a push from Defenders. But while the environmental community continues to work to protect the species with legislation and by encouraging international cooperation, you, too, can play a vital role in saving the bluefin by turning your chopsticks or cutlery toward other savory—and more sustainable—fare and by encouraging others to do the same.