The Deadliest Catch: A Proposed Trade Ban Could Take Bluefin Tuna off the Menu

This January a 511-pound monster of a bluefin tuna sold at Tokyo’s Tsukiji fish market for $175,000–by far the highest price paid for a fish in nine years. By that afternoon, customers at Kyubey, a Michelin-starred restaurant a stone’s throw from the market, were dining on the tuna’s fatty belly, or toro , the most opulent and rich cut from the most valuable fish in the world.

Japanese diners could soon face much higher bills for bluefin. This month a meeting of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) in Doha, Qatar, is slated to consider a proposal to ban all commercial trade of the Northern bluefin, Thunnus thynnus , grouping it with megafauna superstars such as the white rhino and the Asian elephant. Japan imports about 80 percent of the total bluefin catch in the Atlantic and Mediter­ranean, even as those stocks have plummeted to such paltry levels that many scientists speculate that the fish could be headed for extinction.

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