Something Smells Very Fishy in Japan & It Smells like Corporate Greed

The Atlantic Bluefin Tuna with its torpedo shaped metallic blue body is one of the largest and fastest fish in the ocean. It migrates across entire oceans and can swim at speeds up to 45 miles per hour. While in the ocean, the bluefin tuna is a top level predator, this extraordinary fish now teeters on the point of extinction because a much larger more powerful predator, the human consumer and big business have an even larger, seemingly uncontrollable appetite.

Bluefin Tuna - Getty Images

The bluefin tuna has the unfortunate distinction of having extremely succulent and sweet flesh, best eaten raw in sushi or sashimi and thus is a staple in Japan and around the world. Four decades of over-fishing and greed have now eradicated 97% of the Atlantic bluefin tuna stock. While the legal bluefin tuna catch is set at 22,000 tonnes, conservationists suspect that the actual catch is probably closer to 60,000 tonnes. Experts also believe that up to 50% of the bluefin tuna that is caught in the Mediterranean (where the fish go to spawn) is caught illegally - 90% of which ends up in Japan.

Although, many scientists warn that we have perhaps already passed the point of no return with this fish, various global organizations and environmental groups are trying to halt the fishing of the Atlantic bluefin tuna with the hope that like the Western bluefin tuna it will slowly retreat from the brink of extinction after this species of fish fell under the protection of the United States and Canada. Retailers and chefs in Monaco and Britain now refuse to stock bluefin.

However, on the flipside, Japan's giant Mitsubishi conglomerate has now cornered a 40% share of the world's market of bluefin tuna, hedging its bets that the fish will eventually become commercially extinct and they will literally make a killing in profits. The Mitsubishi empire has been importing thousands of tonnes of fish from Europe despite plummeting stocks and freezing the tuna at -60C so that they can sell the fish in several year's time when they become extinct. Research done for the documentary "The End of the Line," claims that Mitsubishi continues to aggressively buy and sell this dwindling reserve and has expanded their freezer capacity to hold extra bluefin. While most people, including myself, only knew Mitsubishi for their cars and electronic goods, I find it extremely distasteful that this corporation is willfully gambling on the complete and utter extinction of this magnificent creature.

In the early morning chaos in Tokyo's Tsukiji Fish Market, the price for fish globally is set at this market. At auction, it has not been uncommon for the price of one bluefin tuna to range from US$100,000 to US$150,000 or even higher. If human greed for this fish continues unchecked, Mitsubishi with their frozen reserves, will undoubtedly hit the jackpot in profits when the oceans are empty and they possess the world's last few vestiges of Atlantic bluefin tuna - but humanity as a whole will pay a even higher price when future generations can only know of this fish in the pictures of the past.

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