SAN FRANCISCO, California -- The Center for Biological Diversity today called on consumers, chefs and restaurateurs to boycott bluefin tuna, a staple at some sushi restaurants and one of the most imperiled fish on the planet. The boycott comes on the heels of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tuna's refusal Saturday to halt overfishing and take measures to take bluefin off its current path toward extinction.
"Bluefin tuna are teetering on the brink of extinction. If regulators won't protect these magnificent fish, it's up to consumers and restaurants to eliminate the market demand, and that means refusing to eat, buy or serve this species," said Catherine Kilduff, a staff attorney for the Center, which petitioned for Endangered Species Act protection for the Atlantic bluefin tuna earlier this year.
The boycott launched today calls on consumers in the United States and around the world to stop eating bluefin tuna sushi. The boycott covers restaurants in the United States that advertised bluefin tuna on their online menus as of last week, including Nobu in New York City, Las Vegas, and Los Angeles; Sushitaro in Washington, D.C.; and Kabuto Sushi in San Francisco.
"The desperate plight of bluefin tuna has been well-known for years and, while some restaurants have rightly removed it from their menus, others continue to serve it. That has to stop if we're going to keep this fish from slipping into oblivion," Kilduff said.
Bluefin tuna are a remarkable ocean species capable of growing up to 10 feet long, swimming at speeds up to 50 mph and crossing an entire ocean in just weeks. Unfortunately, the sushi market keeps prices for tuna high – a single bluefin tuna sold for $177,000 in 2010 – and encourages illegal and unreported fishing.
Atlantic bluefin tuna have declined by more than 80 percent since 1970 due to overfishing. They suffered another blow in 2010 when the Gulf of Mexico oil spill fouled bluefin spawning habitat. Scientists estimate that 20 percent of juvenile bluefin in the area were killed.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature already lists two species of bluefin, the Atlantic and the Southern, as endangered. The Pacific bluefin tuna is not yet listed but the National Marine Fisheries Service says the population is subject to overfishing. The Fisheries Service is still considering the Center's request to protect Atlantic bluefin under the Endangered Species Act.
Today's boycott calls on consumers to sign a pledge not to eat bluefin or spend money at restaurants that serve it. It also urges chefs and restaurateurs to sign a pledge not to buy bluefin tuna or serve it at their establishments.
"There's a direct connection between consumer demand and the extinction crisis that the bluefin tuna faces today – and it's time that connection be broken," Kilduff said.
To learn more, visit www.bluefinboycott.org.
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