Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Who's to blame for bluefin tuna problems?

Japan's Fisheries Agency says that it's unfair to blame Japan for the disappearance of Atlantic and Mediterranean bluefin tuna. Masanori Miyahara, the charming (yes, I can attest to that) leader of Japan's Fisheries Agency said the west and ENGOs unfairly blamed "Japan's huge stomach" while ignoring the failure of western fishery managers to control fishing.

Is it unfair to focus blame on those who ate the vanishing bluefin? Is Miyahara correct in saying that blame also belongs on those who caught the fish and the asleep-at-the-wheel western managers who looked the other way while the fish were caught?

I have to admit that I think it's unfair to blame only Japan for the plight of bluefin, and I said so at WWF's tuna symposium in Tokyo yesterday. European managers and fishing fleets were quite happy to make piles of money catching the fish and selling them to Japan. Can they then turn around and blame Japan for making them catch the fish? I think managers and tuna consumers have to share the blame for disappearing bluefin.

But the real question is what comes next. At the next management meeting, in Paris in November, we'll see who are the friends of bluefin, and who are the false friends who talk nice but slaughter the fish.

Perhaps we should follow here on blogfish the lead-up to the next decisive meeting of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas, cutely known as the International Commission for Catching All the Tuna.

And now it's time to get on a plane back to Europe, and time to sort through those Tsukiji photos. Did you know that sushi restaurants near Tsukiji are packed and hopping at 7:00 am? And that the staff are relentlessly cheerful?

That's a much better showing than the American college baseball players staying in my hotel. A group of 4 of them in an elevator told some departing Japanese players "hey, we're going to Outback and our food will taste better than whatever you're going to eat." Maybe...but the Japanese players probably have more brain cells and much higher quality synapses. Can you spell "ugly American?" Probably not if you're going to Outback in Tokyo tonight, with the other options available.

Good thing I'm from Switzerland.

1 comment:

Angie S. said...

A lot comes back to the consumers. And unfortunately the consumers don't want to hear it. I have been trying to tell friends and family that if they don't start eating sustainably, there will be nothing left. All I get is angry remarks about how I am telling them what they can and can't eat. Sigh.