National Geographic Revives Debate Over Imperiled Bluefin Tuna in New Show

Publication: The Daily Beast

Author: Daniel Stone


03/10/2012 -  Gloucester, Mass., on the northeast tip of the Bay State, is one of the oldest fishing towns in the United States. It may also be the continent’s best departing point to find the hardest-to-catch fish on the planet. Those would be bluefin tuna, the highly-prized flesh used in upscale sushi, for which Japanese consumers will pay up to $10,000 for a single fish. Taken from icy waters, one can weigh as much as 800 pounds. Wrestling it into a bobbing boat takes more skill and coordination than riding an angry bull.

That’s the premise of Wicked Tuna, a show produced by National Geographic Channel that’s attracted both accolades and consternation before the series’ first episode airs on April 1. The reason is that the bluefin itself is currently listed as a threatened species by international conservation groups, which have imposed quotas to keep the fish from heading toward the whirlpool of extinction.

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In some ways bluefin are the perfect species to pursue. “It’s hard to be opposed to the selective fishery for bluefin tuna,” says Lee Crockett, director of fishery policy with the Pew Environment Group. “They don’t have broader environmental impact. [People who catch them] don’t harm other wildlife, and they don’t damage the habitat.” Indeed, one of the most challenging parts of landing a catch is the fishermen’s low-tech approach: federal regulations put limits on industrial muscle, so deck hands mostly hunt the scaly behemoths with a basic—albeit durable—reel and rod.

Read the full article, National Geographic Revives Debate Over Imperiled Bluefin Tuna in New Show, on The Daily Beast's Web site.

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