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The Trouble With Tuna

Is it possible to have too much of a good thing? That certainly seems to be the case with so many bluefin tuna being landed that buyers are telling fishermen to tie up their boats for a week until the market recovers. It’s become an annual event and each time it happens, people point fingers, make accusations and voice their complaints. Few offer logical solutions and it likely won’t change unless we make the effort to evaluate the situation, put things into perspective and address the affliction rather than the symptoms.

Too many fish

For the last several seasons, usually around mid-July, there’s a point where the bluefin market gets flooded because so many fish are caught and landed in a short period. But isn’t that a good thing? It means tuna are abundant. Yes, there are more boats in the water, but the reason more fish are being landed is due more to availability than effort. The downside is that prices plummet and the limited quota gets filled too quickly, meaning a hasty end to fishing season at its peak.

Preliminary steps were taken to address this in 2020, after results of the stock assessment seemed to conflict with what fishermen observed. The assessment said the stock was healthy but possibly in need of increased protection through quota reductions because of poor recruitment. The U.S. fishing community, special interest groups and fisheries managers joined forces to dispute that assessment.

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