Claire Corlett

Fish Food, Fish Tanks, and More
Appetite for Destruction: Eating Bluefin Tuna Into Extinction

Appetite for Destruction: Eating Bluefin Tuna Into Extinction

I love sushi, it’s one
of my favorite foods. But I truly believe
that if you are serving bluefin, that you’re
contributing to the extinction
of a species. Well, that’s
very misleading. I don’t think everybody, we have inside
information. At the heart of
our love for sushi is bluefin tuna. The most loved
by sushi fans, the most expensive
at market. The diamond of the sea. But the global
economy has made it more valuable than other. Prices can rise and fall by tens of thousands
of dollars a day. And it can lose more
value more quickly than any other
product on Earth. But now, those who
care about the fish are starting to
worry that our ever-growing appetites
may have put it at risk. A generation-long
gold rush for this new prize of the
seas may be leading to its own extinction. I’m Sasah Issenberg,
a journalist and author of the book,
The Sushi Economy, Globalization and the Making of
a Modern Delicacy. I started exploring
this business about a decade ago. And it’s been
a tremendous change in the global economy. Today, sushi is
a multi-billion dollar international
business, and bluefin tuna is
the most prized. Single fish can sell for tens of thousands
of dollars. I wanted to go
back out and see what the sushi
world was like now, and what that meant for the fate of the Pacific
bluefin tuna. Before the 1960s, Japanese didn’t want to
eat oily fatty fish. No one anywhere
wanted bluefin tuna. At best, they paid pennies a pound to see it
ground up as cat food. But eventually, the Japanese, looking at
Americans devouring their bloody red steaks, wanted
oily meat of their own. And started asking for bluefin tuna at
the sushi bar. Japan catches
the majority of the Pacific bluefin tuna. In fact, Japan consumes
90% of the world’s supply of Pacific bluefin tuna. Followed by Mexico,
the United States, South Korea and China, and illegal fishing
is rampant. Data compiled
over the last 60 years on tuna biology and annual catches has led
some scientists to conclude that over 96%
of the world’s original stock of Pacific bluefin
tuna are now gone. Some now estimate that
fewer than 40,000 adult Pacific bluefin
remain in the wild. Concern over
the dwindling numbers of Pacific bluefin tuna has
long been overshadowed by the attention paid
to the Atlantic and southern bluefin,
two other types of tuna already treated
as endangered species. Scientific authorities
are now concerned about the precarious situation
of the Pacific bluefin tuna, whose listing
they recently changed from of least concern to
vulnerable to extinction. This is a crisis
that’s affecting not only the US and Japan,
but other players in that sushi business
around the world. And I think there is
a lot more interests now among people in
government, industry and media and consumers about
the need to do something serious about it. Pacific bluefin migrate
from the waters around Japan, where breeding
grounds are located, to the Pacific coast
off North America. To understand
the globalized nature of the sushi business, I’m starting here
in Los Angeles. And we’ll follow a tuna back across the Pacific
to its other home, Japan. I’ve come to Hollywood
to meet chef Michael at his restaurant
Providence. Michael’s managed to
earn two Michelin stars while serving only what he calls
sustainable seafood. That means one thing
you won’t find on his menu here,
bluefin tuna. So what does sustainable
seafood mean to you? A sustainable fish is one
that’s been harvested within quota. It’s harvested in light
of research and science which that says that the
biomass is healthy and can support a certain
level of harvest. And is there a bluefin
tuna that you consider sustainable? No. Absolutely not. I think that’s
the one fish that you’d be hard pressed to
find anyone that’s really thinking about the matter
that would tell you that you can feel good
about serving it. I serve fish for
a living, as do many other chefs. But it’s important
to me that the fish that we serve
are sustainable. So did you replace
bluefin on your menu with something else? Yeah, we use bigeye. We also use yellowfin. So these are other
red tunas. These are other
red-fleshed tunas. Frankly anywhere you
would use bluefin, you could use a bigeye or
a yellowfin. So what was it that
prompted you nine years ago to make the decision
to stop selling bluefin? The research kept
coming back and it always said exactly
the same thing. That it’s a species that
is in peril both in the Atlantic and
in the Pacific. Let’s say you have 100
friends on Facebook today and then let’s imagine
that tomorrow you wake up and you’re down to four. And those other 96 are
gone from the picture. Never to be seen again. That’s what the, exactly what the bluefin
is in right now. 4% of it’s historic
bio-mass is what exist in the Pacific today. I truly believe that if
you are serving bluefin then you’re contributing
to the extinction of a species. I mean, I would love to
see that there could be a sustainable and guilt free harvest of
bluefin at some point. I mean bluefin
are international fish. So bluefin they
span the globe. It’s very difficult to
legislate the harvest of a fish that travels
the way bluefin do. There’s so many species
in this world, obviously, that are threatened. But I feel like
it’s difficult, I think, to form
a connection with a fish. That’s the problem. That is the real problem. People don’t care enough. People are so
passionate about so many other things but when it comes to
something like You know, saving the giant bluefin, it’s difficult to
raise people’s ire. In light of all of
the science, in light of everything that’s been
said, in light of all the information
that’s out there. And it’s such a simple
thing to save. None of us in the United
States are going to starve because we don’t
eat bluefin on a daily or weekly basis. No one. Question is how do
you develop passion, enough passion in people
to just sit down in a sushi bar and
say a few simple words, which is I don’t eat
bluefin, you know? You can take bluefin tuna
off your menu if you’re an American or
French restaurant. What happens if
you’re a sushi bar? I’m gonna go to one of
the hundreds here in LA. Talk to a chef about
what his choices are. Across town at Hamasaku,
one of hundreds of sushi bars in
the greater LA area. There’s rarely talk
about the environmental consequences of
loving bluefin. But the chef has
his own sort of interesting story,
he’s from Japan but he’s worked in
Jamaica making sushi. And so he’s very much
interested in sort of interpreting sushi for
the time and place in which
he’s serving it. So how long have you
been a sushi chef? I almost doing
40 years now. Oh wow.
Well why don’t you show me what’s good today? Yeah, absolutely. You have bluefin tuna.>From Spain. Okay. Look, right here. Is that a very fatty piece
And was it wild or ranched? Do you know? I’d say this is ranched. Ranch
Ranching and farming were both
developed as a way to take some of the pressure
off of wild stocks. There are various methods
of harvesting Pacific bluefin tuna, and each of
them comes with their own trade offs in terms
of sustainability. When you ranch,
you’re taking small fish, which means they were
removed from the water before they
can reproduce. Removing them through
nets into pens, where they can be
fattened in captivity. But in doing so, you’re
obliterating the juvenile stocks who would
otherwise grow large and breed themselves. Farming takes the whole
lifecycle and does it in captivity, alleviates all
of the pressure off of wild stocks and
doesn’t touch juveniles. But growing an adult bluefin tuna from
birth in captivity is an incredibly
expensive enterprise. Bluefin tuna metabolize 15 times
their body weight. Which means that for
every pound of tuna that you grow out
in captivity, you’re having to put 15
pounds of wild feed. That means mackerel,
cultured squid, in the pen for it. There’s obviously not
any easy solution to bringing this rare
predator to our plates. It’s difficult to
get wild fish. Yeah. But, you know, they don’t have any
kind of crazy fat. It used to be Japanese. It was too fatty, right? Yeah too fatty and
too meaty. And do you find customers
that are concerned about ordering bluefin now because
of the environment? Still people do like it. People do order it. What do you say
to customers who tell you that they have
a problem with bluefin? I mean, just you
don’t need to eat. I mean,
you don’t want to eat, don’t eat that thing. That’s the right way. I don’t want to push
customer to, Have to eat. Do they fight with
you about that or? Some customer,
they like fight. Yeah.
But I don’t say fight to them. Exactly, you don’t want
to eat, just don’t eat. Well, compi. When you sit down at a
sushi bar and you order a piece of fish, all you’re
doing is interacting with the chef but there’s this
whole world behind them. It’s passing through six,
eight, ten different hands, across continents,
money’s moving, values are changing,
expectations are changing, and so
I wanted to go explore what’s happening
behind the sushi bar. How is that fish
coming to me, and what does it mean for
the world? A big part of
eating sustainable seafood is knowing
where it comes from. So I’m going to a fish
distributor to find out for myself. Rex Ito is
a marine biologist who 25 years ago,
got into the business of dealing tuna and he runs
Prime Time Seafood, a distributorship
right next to LAX airport in
Los Angeles. So the major ports
of entry in the U.S. for fresh fish in
general is L.A., Miami, New York and then kind of
distributes from there. And so the fish we see
today will have come in to LAX on a plane, and you all just
picked it up and? Yeah. There’s a joke that the
biggest fishing harbor now is the international
airport because the fish are no longer coming in
just by boat but by air. We still have this
romantic idea that when you want the freshest
fish, you go find the place that’s closest
to the water but it’s probably actually
in unsexy places like Rex Ito’s warehouse that
are the closest in place that the fish are landing
in the United States. We pick it up
at the airport. We grade the fish. We take samples of
the fish and depending on the quality of the fish,
we’ll determine the price and the market it’s gonna
go to and we send out to a different country to
a different customers. Tuna is a very
special fish. It’s one of the few fish
that’s warm blooded. So what that means is
the internal temperature of the tuna is about,
is ten degrees centigrade higher than the ambient
water temperature. So that’s why that fish
can be in cold water and have bursts of speed and keeps them metabolically
active, right? And how fast
do they swim? I think 50 miles an hour. They can get up to
50 miles an hour. It’s incredible. It’s a beautiful animal. Where does the strength
come from in a fish like that to
go 50 miles an hour? Well, the whole
body is muscle. You can tell the shape
of the fish is like a torpedo. It’s really
a magnificent fish. So this is an example
of a burned fish, which means the meat
got heated up, it’s not that
sweet taste. Taste that and
then taste that. Well, definitely
more acidic. Yeah.
That’s exactly what a sushi chef can taste. These are farmed
bluefin from Mexico. Okay.
So, when you say farmed, what does that mean? More accurately,
it’s ranched. Okay.
Farm would be from egg to harvest. These fish are caught
wild, kept in. How large are they when
they are caught wild? It depends. It can be anywhere from
15 kilos up to 100 kilos. So there is oil fat in
all parts of this fish. Chef’s are really
looking for, is this belly section,
the. And how much more would
a piece of that sell for at a sushi bar,
than that? Several times? Maybe as much as triple. Okay, so
as a marine biologist, what are you afraid of in
the long term about tuna? If we follow science and maybe not politics,
we could easily manage the tuna
fisheries in the world. You mean setting
regulations and enforcing them? Yeah, correct. So the latest you know, the sky is falling kind
of information is that 90% of the bluefin of
the Pacific are gone, or they can’t seem
to find them. Well, that’s very
misleading but curiously, the biomass
and the production and capture of bluefin,
in the Pacific, has remained constant for
50 years. So, that’s where I
have an issue between science and politics. I think you can take
any data and construe it any way that you want
to the cause that you’re purporting but I think
what I’m saying now, let the studies happen. I don’t have
a problem with that. I think we do
need to conserve. I don’t feel guilty
about eating bluefin or ordering bluefin in
a restaurant but we have inside
information. It’s very difficult to
say we’re sustainable. Does that word mean
anything to you? I think nothing is truly
sustainable, right. I think my best
description would be is it’s caught in
a responsible way. And that affects
the types of fish that are available to
people in the U.S.? Oh, absolutely,
absolutely. As an importer to the
U.S., one of the first things we check is what’s
the price in Japan? What’s going on in Japan? If the prices are low in
Japan, we’re going to get higher quality fish from
the Asian suppliers. It’s clear from talking to him that what really
drives the market around the world is what
takes place in Japan. Just as Pacific
bluefin migrate from the California coasts to
the waters off Japan, I’m following their
trail to find out what I can learn on the
other side of the ocean. I’m heading to
the largest fish market in the world in the epicenter of the
global seafood industry. We’re here at Tsukiji
Market in downtown Tokyo. This is known as Tokyo’s
pantry because it’s where many of the capital’s
restaurants and markets get their
ingredients. It’s also one of
the largest and most dynamic seafood
markets in the world. We’re here to take a look
at the tuna auctions, where expectations and
prices for bluefin are set that affect everything
across the world. Everyday, fish are coming
in from all over the world and the number and quality of
them varies dramatically. Lay them out in big,
cold warehouse and starting before dawn
every morning, some of the hundreds of seafood
dealers who are based in the Tsukiji Market come
and begin inspecting fish and deciding which ones
that they want to bid on. The big auction houses
that sell tuna to the Tsukiji Market
are known generically as the the seafood
companies and their buyers at
the auctions are known as it means intermediate
wholesalers. So how does that work,
that the prices here are able to affect
prices around Japan and other parts of the world? Tsukiji is the number one
tuna market in Japan. Because Tsukiji is
the center of the seafood market in Japan. Local markets
can use Tsukiji prices as an index to judge the fair value
of their products. How much of
the business is tuna? Is magaro? In terms of money, 25%. And what
are the advantages for the fish to physically
move through the market? At Tuskiji we have
about 250 tuna buyers. And since they all
inspect the tuna, it ensures you’ll
get a fair price. So how many tuna did
your company sell today? Today Tsukiji is storing
40 tons (88,000 lbs) of fresh bluefin tuna. And 90 tons (198,000
lbs) of frozen bluefin. Eventually all of these
tuna will sell out from the 5 wholesale
companies. I think we
move 80 billion to 100 billion
yen per year. I think we move 80
billion to 100 billion yen per year. Oh, this is not
our profit. …Well, we can’t
tell you our profit. In 2012, at the
prestigious New Year’s auction at Tsukiji,
a single tuna sold for $1.76 million. Even last year, a bluefin
went for $70,000. While these prices don’t
reflect the fair market value of a tuna, they
do reflect the cultural prominence of tuna
in Japanese life. This is big business. This is the center
of a massive global marketplace, the same way that the New
York Stock Exchange is. The difference though? The tuna industry
hasn’t been changed by the development of new
financial instruments.Not just anybody can bid on
a tuna at Tsukiji Market. One of the dealers
who’s based there needs a license. And it’s a little
blue chip that they usually put on their
hat or on their shirt. And they come in and they start
inspecting the fish. Often it’s less than
an hour to go through hundreds of fish. And so
there’s this really rapid process of sizing
up a fish. Looking at it’s shape,
looking at the skin to get a sense of it’s
firmness, it’s texture. The tail section will be
cut off so you get a, a look at that you get a
sense of the oil content. You can see how
the fat’s marbled there, you can see how evenly
the fat’s distributed through different
parts of the fish, through each
of its lobes. Auction houses will, will
number their fish with, with red paint
on its belly. This is basically a bar
code for the auctions. Fish don’t have names,
all they have is a yellow piece of paper on
them that’ll say that the port or the country
at which it was landed, whether it was farmed,
ranched, wild. Everything beyond that,
assessing its value is up to individual buyers
before they bid on it. Soon as the bell rings
to start the auctions, to go figure out which
of the different fish they wanna bid on. And from then on it’s
a Japanese market slang, calling out numbers. Incredibly complicated
set of hand signals. Do you see a change
in the demand internationally, in
the United States or other countries that
are competing for the same supply of fish? Yes, the demand for tuna
is growing rapidly but not only in Japan. Because of the global
boom in sushi, the demand for bluefin
has increased worldwide. As soon as the auction
individual tuna is concluded,
the auction house had sold it will mark
the buyer and it’s up to them to cart
it off back to their stall through this sort
of maze of the market. And, often quickly
with the tuna, they want to get it cut
up to see what’s inside. And then they’re seeing
all the different cuts of tuna, which they will
price differently, because an individual
sushi bar isn’t going to go through
more than 20 or 30 pounds of it in a day. These are the people
that stand between a restaurant or a small market and the
big seafood importers. Nice to meet you,
thank you for having us. And this is
a family business? I’m 3rd generation and
it’s been here for over 100 years,
since the Meiji era. And always tuna? Yes, we only deal
in bluefin tuna. Why tuna? Why not any of
the other fish or seafood that’s here? When I started this job, my family’s business was
already selling tuna. We can make our living
just selling bluefin. We only deal with raw,
wild-caught tuna. Without Tsukiji Market, we couldn’t run
a business like this. We trade tuna because
it tastes good. I think bluefin is
the king of tasty fish. How much does it matter
that Maguro has such an important place
in Japanese culture? Japan is surrounded by
the sea and I think we are one of the biggest
consumers of fish. Japan is surrounded by
the sea and I think we are one of the biggest
consumers of fish. So fish is very
important to us, and a good source of protein. In the old days we could
find enough quality fish from a single company. These days I can’t find
the right fish without going around to the other
four fish companies. So I guess the fish
are decreasing. And why do you think
that the fish are, the amount of fish
are declining? Many small fish are
caught before they can lay eggs. Specifically, 90% of
bluefin are caught around one or two years old. We need to have better
age limit restrictions. I’m really worried
about this. How much do your
customers know or want to know, or care,
about where the fish came from or
how it was caught? Most people don’t know
how we catch fish. People have one or two pieces of
sushi at a time. This is a serious issue, but it’s hard for
them to imagine. We must protect bluefin
tuna at the breeding age or we’ll have a tough
time in the future. We must protect bluefin
tuna at the breeding age or we’ll have a tough
time in the future. He’s the 4th generation. And, so
how do you think things will be different
when he’s in charge? Huge supermarkets
are taking over a lot of our business so
it will be tough. If you walk throughout the city you’ll see that
small open air markets are disappearing
from the city. That small open air
markets are disappearing from the city. That means we
are losing clients and we’ll face a very dire
situation in the future. But it’s not
a dying business, it will always be here. A thriving business
is another story. I was really surprised
today to hear such grave concern from people
at all levels of the tuna trade about some of
the environmental consequences of
bluefin overfishing. When I first started
coming to this market a decade ago,
you never heard that. I think what’s changed
is it’s unavoidable. The facts are in
everybody’s face. They know that there’s
no way to make their businesses sustainable
over the next generation unless they figure out
a long term fix for this problem. I’m taking a short walk
to the popular Sushi Dai restaurant inside
the Tsukiji Market to see whats for sale at
sushi bars in Japan. Hi. Hi. Sushi Dai is probably the
most famous in the bunch. Regularly covered in
the Japanese media. Often one of the first
places that foreigners will taste sushi in Japan
when they try to come to see the market as
a tourist attraction. So how long has
the shop been here? 23 years.
23 years. Yeah.
What should I eat? What’s good today? Yeah, tuna? Okay, yeah sure. The Japanese true
bluefin is sort of the flagship seafood
of the sushi bar. Often it’s
the item the chef has the most pride in. You hear a chef say I can
be out of salmon one day, I can be out of the
shrimp but if I’m out of bluefin my customers
won’t come back anymore. Is this wild or ranched? Of course it’s wild! Always wild? All wild. Do you like ranched tuna? Well, the taste is very
different from wild tuna. I can’t say it has
a bad taste, but farmed tuna has less
flavor than wild tuna. I can’t say it
has a bad taste, but farmed tuna has less
flavor than wild tuna. But if you ask me
what has changed in the last 22 years, then I’d say farming
technology has improved. What is “meji”? Baby tuna. Baby tuna? Yeah. And it’s from Japan? Yes. Ok, and you think the
flavor is different than a full grown tuna? Yeah. It’s a little different. Why? Cuz big size tuna is so strong tasting,
oily, fatty. But small, small ones not
strong, has a good taste. And you can get it
at the market here? Yeah.
90% of the Pacific bluefin catch are juveniles
under two years old. Which means that they
were removed from the water before
they can reproduce. Sushi Dai shows that
Japanese restaurant habits haven’t
been shaped by concerns over
sustainability. And they’re still driven
by the chef’s idea about taste. Very good.
Not as oily as. Thank you very much. Thanks. It was very delicious. Traditionally, the
Japanese government has been resistant to
even talk about bluefin overfishing
as a problem. I’ve come here
to Yokohama to meet with Masanori
Miyahara, President of the Fisheries Research
Agency, to find out what the government’s
stance is today. What do we know about
the current conditions of stocks for
Pacific bluefin? The spawning stock is close to the historically
lowest level. So we’d like to make sure
that this stock is going up, building up. And we say
spawning stock? Spawning stock. In easy terms,
it’s adult fish. And how did we get here? Can you sort of explain? Our ways of catching
bluefin tuna are not so good, because we are
catching too much small fish, child fish. So we have to
restrict that part so that small fish
can be an adult. That’s the main purpose
of the rebuilding plan now. I had lunch at Sushi Dai
in Tsukiji market, and they had meiji. No, no, no. How will you convince
a sushi chef who takes so much pride in his maguro? But you see, in
the meeting with Tsukiji, they understand. But they do it as
their business. It’s bad behavior. The spawning ground is
located only in Japan, Japanese waters. So you see, we have
a responsibility to protect that fish. But you see, that fish migrates in a very
wide range. At the age of just
one year old, they go across
the Pacific and go to California and
Mexico, and Mexico is catching a lot
of the young fish too. And Korea is also
another big actor. But you see, we have to work with
those countries so that conservation will be
ensured for that species. What has changed in the
sort of domestic politics in Japan to make
the government more receptive to this than
they were before? We learned a lot from
that painful process with Atlantic bluefin tuna. We worked with
the European Union but you see,
we were too late, too late to take
meaningful action. Now, Japan is
a major market. We have to take our responsibility
as a market. The management plan,
what are the new rules, guidelines that
have been set? First is the objective. The objective is to
rebuild the adult fish to the average level
within ten years. And to attain that
objective we have to reduce the small fish
catch as much as possible. So we decided at
the first stage, 50% reduction of
small fish catch. And I hope other
countries will accept that. Then we can
work together. United States is taking
some distance from what we are doing. Because they are a little
bit concerned about their sport fishermen. But you see, we can’t
wait for United States so that’s why we
decided to go ahead. My announcement not to
eat small fish last year got so many complaints
from consumers. Why are you,
a government official, saying not to
eat something?!? I’m not saying, you see, bluefin tuna should
not be eaten. Bluefin will be eaten
forever by reducing that catch of
small fish now.>From the perspective of
conservation of bluefin, what has innovations
in ranching and farming meant? Yes, our farming industry
is producing nearly 10,000 metric tons
of bluefin tuna. But the majority of
the fish originated from natural fish. So, they are using
small fish. So, we have to reduce
that kind of impact by introducing artificial
hatcheries. And how successful has it been as- Technically, it’s
successful. And what
are the challenges? But economically,
not yet. We’ve heard a policy
maker not only acknowledge overfishing
of bluefin, but say it’s an urgent
concern about which Japan needs to be a leader
on the world stage. For once, the Japanese
are talking about their national interest
being not only in catching bluefin, but
in conserving them. To better understand the
challenges of bringing farmed bluefin
tuna to market, I’ve come to Kinki
University’s laboratory in the open waters
off Kushimoto. Kinki University is
an institution with large fisheries labs that have
played an outsized role in Japanese aquaculture. Its biggest breakthrough, developed over 40 years,
was learning how to breed bluefin tuna entirely
in captivity. Those fish are now
sold as Kindai Tuna. And so you’ve
branded these fish. Kindai tuna is bred
from the egg stage at the research institute
and we grow them artificially in tanks
in a closed cycle. We’ve trademarked
it in Japan. And so when we say that
Kinki was the first to complete the life cycle
for bluefin tuna, what does that mean? It means that
we can produce tuna in our preserve
throughout their entire life cycle without
using wild resources. That way we can protect
the wild bluefin population, which
is decreasing, while still maintaining
our bluefin food supply. So this is where
Kindai mackerel are. Yeah, it is. So what happens
in this pen? We have 25 carrots
over this pen. And this is a fish to get
eggs from the production. How do fish,
they get in here? We originally hatched
from eggs and we transport from one
tank to the net bank. And we feed them
to bigger and bigger to grow up. When the fish are
growing, how large do you get them before they’re
ready to harvest? Normally, we harvest
three years. Okay.
Two to three years. And how large is that,
then? The average is 40
to 50 kilograms. Okay.
And how long is a fish like that? Hundred, 1.5 meters. And how much of the feed
is natural, and how much of it is chemicals or-
We don’t use chemicals. Okay. Everything is
from nature. We feed these fish today, squid. Oh, okay. And so how much would a bluefin
eat, one of these a day? Normally, we feed one
to two parts into body weight. Per day? Yes. Okay. So are they eating? Can you see? What’s going on? So sometimes we
do different from the normal. They add something
different, so they don’t
need squid now. So you wanna
keep it calm, as though they’re
out in nature? I can say, tuna fish
is more sensitive than the other fish. To the conditions? The conditions. Yeah.
There we go. Is there a different
taste or texture of the meat depending
on what it eats? No, we try to compare it
grow out by artificial diet and live bait. Taste, cost, everything. And have you seen
any differences in? So far, not so
large differences. Why did it take so
much longer to successfully breed
bluefin tuna? First of all,
bluefin tuna’s skin is so sensitive. If it gets scratched the
fish can die very easily. So we had a tough time
catching wild tuna in nets in order to build
our stocks to farm them. After nine years
of research, we finally succeeded in
harvesting the eggs from the pen. We became the first to
succeed in that process in the entire world. Still we’re using
natural resources for bait, which is a dilemma. So our ultimate goal is
to research this more and make a 100%
artificial bait. If we can do that, then
I think we can create an excellent product. While Kinki University
aims to triple its supply of bluefin tuna to
6,000 fish by 2020, that’s still a long way
off from satisfying all of Japan’s demand for
bluefin tuna. I talked to a lot of
people who claim that they can taste the
difference between a wild and farmed tuna. Certainly, you can see
with your own eyes that the fat is distributed
differently between the two, and
it makes sense. Farmed tuna eat
differently, they move differently, they metabolize
differently. It makes sense that they
would taste different. I think the real
challenge is not so much figuring out how to
make farmed fish taste like wild fish, or
look like them but how to get Japanese
consumers to accept farmed tuna on
its own merits. Yoyogi Park,
Shibuya, Tokyo. There are people working
hard on the ground in Japan to change
consumer attitudes, and in the process, preserve
the Pacific bluefin. I’m here to meet
with Wakao Hanaoka of Greenpeace, Japan, to talk about some of the
environmental crises that they face with regard
to the bluefin, and what they’re trying
to do to solve them. Do you eat sushi? I love sushi. Okay.
And I have my son, and he love sushi also,
and I want to enjoy, keep enjoying eating
sushi for future also. What’s the recommendation
that Greenpeace makes? First, people should
stop eating bluefin and also stop fishing
bluefin tuna until we see the proper evidence
of the restock recovery. In Japanese, we care
very much about seafood. Seafood is really
the essence of our food culture. So, we all want to
keep enjoying it and also inherit to
the next generation. To do that,
the only way now, is that we stop
eating for a while. We decide not to eat for
a while. I cannot tell really
how many years. It can be a few years,
it can be decades, it can be longer. I was surprised, on this
visit, that people we interview are far more
ready to acknowledge that overfishing had
existed and led to some problems and that it was
the responsibility of people in the industry to
be concerned about it. What do you
think has driven sort of change
of awareness? I think the biggest
reason is the local fishermen are speaking
out more, which influence the market players and
the government but Japanese, we are a little
bit unusual. If we know that
there’s not many more, then we start to compare
each other like rush to finish. We want to have it
before it finish. So if the price goes up
and if it’s more well known that there’s only
like this much tuna left, I think like,
some rich people start doing this more but
Pacific bluefin tuna, 80% of the catch
was from Japan. Japan should take the
lead, otherwise, it’s us Japanese, ourself,
we lose our food culture. Japanese government lose
their face both from international society and
from Japanese consumers. How does Greenpeace
see bluefin farming? At this moment, consumers
shouldn’t think or like market players shouldn’t
think this as the solution of the Pacific
bluefin tuna issue. One of the biggest
concerns is that to make one meat of tuna, they
need about 22 kilogram of small fish for
the tuna’s food. If you talk
about the whole ecosystem in the ocean,
it’s not solution at all. It’s pretty clear that
people all across the market accept
the underlying scientific reality that overfishing
is a problem and that to preserve their
future livelihoods, we’re all going to have
to do something about it. Unlike when I first
started exploring the sushi trade a decade
ago, I see a much greater willingness
among people all around the world to acknowledge
that overfishing has its consequences, and
especially that our love for bluefin has
an environmental cost but no one country’s gonna
do this on its own. You’re not gonna see
a single government crackdown on it’s
own businesses and as long as there’s a big
ocean with fish moving through it, this is gonna
be a problem that needs more than one
country to handle. Chefs may feel that they
can do their part by taking bluefin off their
menus and consumers may feel that they can do
more by ordering more intelligently but are we
really gonna expect people to put down
their chopsticks and stop eating bluefin
tuna for good? I doubt it. Politics, economics,
diplomacy all have a part to play here but they’re
up against a far more persistent driver of
human behavior, taste.

100 comments on “Appetite for Destruction: Eating Bluefin Tuna Into Extinction

  1. the broker in Los Angeles is just lying to himself. he sees dollar signs over everything else. if the guy in Japan that sells only bluefin tuna is worried that the fish getting caught are younger and younger not allowing them to procreate why isn't he listening to the him? he's just another bullshiter. the first one is bullshiting is himself.

  2. I think when Americans think of sushi and Japanese food they think of Ancient Ancient traditions. to hear that bluefin tuna sold for pennies a pound and was used as cat food back in the 60s is absolutely mind-blowing. This is basically a new phenomenon and it's as powerful a market as Wall Street!! I fear it will disappear as quickly as it appeared.

  3. these morons care so much about extinction of species. these are the same idiots that will tell you to feed hormones to your children.

    the problem is that they don't control it.

  4. these morons care so much about extinction of species. these are the same idiots that will tell you to feed hormones to your children.

    the problem is that they don't control it.

  5. Seth Rogen. . . A chef now and wow what a nose couldnt stop looking at the nose it a jolly nose

  6. Why are people and authorities who come in contact with this reality not taking a stand by the stats, immediately? It's so dumb that we are always trying to hack mother nature – i.e f.ex. consuming loads of "this very rare predator" fish. WTF???? If mother nature thought it would be for the best to feed us fatty fish then why is it a predator aka a rarity in our ecossystems? Come on people
    We are given nature and the rules that we can see consequently that perpetuate nature's existence allowing for every living thing to flourish, but we think we are the "rational" ones? this is just anti-us in my opinion, the way we perceive nature and treat wildlife and resources is a collective suicide!
    people need to ground themselves and follow the natural laws that can only sustain life through natural intelligence! it's time nothing else counts as much as is it sustainable? economics need to change around this concept; aesthetics, ways of living, policies…
    It's outraging what is going on! at least finally children, activists, and manifestations are incresingly noticed around the world. we need governments to partner in this, not be an obstacle to humanity's existencial crisis! #declaretheclimateemergency #climatechaos #extinctionrebellion #survivalofourpeople #climatechaos #protecttheworldasweknowit

  7. The Reporter:

    * Intends to highlight the bluefin tuna crisis in the world’s seas

    * Ends up eating a bunch of bluefin tuna in different continents


  8. I’ll never understand why people care about ONE species of fish. It’s just food. What other purpose do they serve?

  9. You know what's worse than a millennial "foodie"? Nothing. There is nothing worse than running into one of these pretentious pricks. Unless they are also a vegan. lol

  10. I like how he goes around eating all this bluefin tuna sushi, while saying it's going extinct. lolol

  11. Radiation didn't help matters, either. Fukushima has affected the fish and what we are taking into our bodies.

  12. We’re eventually gonna destroy this planet and will need to find anew planet in order to survive. They’re’s just to damn many people on this planet.

  13. Morehead City, NC still hosts a HUGE bluefin tuna tournament every year. I can't believe they still KILL those beautiful fish, string them up for show, then THROW THEM IN THE GD DUMPSTER! This crap needs to stop NOW!

  14. Ironic that they wrap the fish in plastic when the fish has probably eaten enough plastic to wrap itself. Until humans are on the extinction list everything will carry on as normal.

  15. god, the world is just falling apart.. How many other videos about ecological crisis happening across the world have i seen today? too many to count..

  16. LOL, pencil pusher, stats worshiper, predisposed interview, making claims without actually doing in depth research. So by publishing a book, he is suddenly an authority in this issue

  17. I can't believe the Japanese government allows harvesting of that mighty fish before it breeds. That's Insane. Maybe, they're intentionally trying to wipe out American's favoured fish. After all, Japanese people didn't even like tuna until they saw Americans eating it so why would they care if it disappeared, they'll just go back to whatever they ate pre-1960. Is this situation indicative of the famous Japanese Intelligence? They must know what they're doing is detrimental to that fish.

  18. Tuna spawning ground is only in Japanese waters? Wow. I have a theory… In Pre-WWII Japan the mighty Blue Fin Tuna was a protected species, reserved only for Royalty. Americans invaded, looked at what the royalty ate, proceeded to make the protected fish endangered. Then, Americans chastise the country they subjugated for being Stupid enough to adopt American values/culture etc. after defeat in war. Tuna depletion is America's fault, and America doesn't want the fish protected because it's linked to the Japanese Royal Family. It's a theory. Maybe applicable to Wales also.


  20. They considered tuna as the best and most expensive fish in the world and yet they really didn’t take good care of it in the fish market. They just put there, walk over like nothing. And anybody could just walk over it and expose its quality from these people.

  21. I agree with overfishing is bad but good God, can you be anymore akward and asking messed up questions to honest people that all they know is that is their life. You look like nicholas cage trying to be hard and serious about blue fin, and also you are putting words in their mouths

  22. ive seen this vid before…
    even did the "not interested" – why
    because "ive already watched the video" counter-measures & it still shows up in my recommened!?! whatsupwithdat youtube??

  23. After mankind chopped down the last tree , caught the last fish, and slaughtered the last animal on earth, going to realize you can't eat damn money!

  24. I could stop eating it . But then the person next to me would enjoy it . I don’t run my car I bike then I see China . Give me my car back . It’s like water 💦 I conserve my water 5 min showers then see Ca watering their lawns and filling there swimming pools . 10 shower head shower.. oh my ……… So I say ! Eat ,drink , and kill the Earth 🌏 . Why do I even try ! We the people don’t exists. It’s corporations that rule and regulate .

  25. So if the japanese made beef or pork and mastered it than national dish ,the price on the market would have gone way up

  26. This was a BS video. He interviewed several people in the Japanese fish market who only spoke about price and competition from large supermarkets and then the Munchies guy lied in his summary and said everyone spoke about sustainability when in fact they spoke of survival of their business due to competition nothing to do with overfishing. Pure propaganda. Idiots will eat this up and perhaps continue to deplete their brain power.

  27. Now i know how the world going to end… we gonna eat every animal to extinct then once all specie gone only human left the zombie apocalypse will begin for the final touch of the end of the world

  28. I was having a rough day, and then I saw the scene with the Japanese auctioneers and immediately felt better. Thanks, Vice!

  29. I absolutely love tuna. But as impossible as it would be to happen they should just ban catching tuna for a few years let it build back up. As much as I’d hate to see tuna go away I’d rather it go away for a few years rather than forever

  30. The truth about the Blue fin is they have recovered. Blue Fin Fishing management has had a lot of success over the last number of years. The future looks OK, for now.

  31. Japanese cull whales for "science" illegally, change their history books to hide their bloodied hands in the World War… Blue fin tuna? Haaa they will worry only when they are extinct

  32. As we are months away from 2020, will you be following up this video with what has happened in the last 5 years? Including any recently published studies, feedback from Chefs, and the Japan government? It would be nice to see what happens and changes with every decade if you can find the same people to interview and see how the decline or resurgence has affected them and the world.

  33. The Fallen:
    Citizens of the human hive, your leaders have withheld the truth. You are not alone in this universe. We have lived among you, hidden, but no more. As you've seen, we can destroy your cities at will, unless you turn over this boy. If you resist us, we will destroy the world as you know it.

  34. Optimus Prime:
    Our races united by a history long forgotten and a future we shall face together. I am Optimus Prime, and I send this message so that our past will always be remembered: for in those memories, we live on.

  35. Optimus Prime:
    Earth, birthplace of the human race, a species much like our own, capable of great compassion and great violence. For in our quest to protect the humans, a deeper revelation dawns. Our worlds have met before.

  36. So you mean to say a sophisticated agency allowed a species to go from least concern to near extinction??? Seems fishy…

  37. this is just like that damn shark fin soup. ppl get obsessed with a certain fish or part of the fish and it becomes a cultural thing. blue fin is great but so are alot of other fishes

  38. What is happening now is countries are expanding their waters, sinking any ship crossing into their territory. Australia has already sank several ships belonging to China.

  39. Im sorry, there's no saving them. Kiss the blue fin tuna as a species goodbye. Money is the most important thing in this world. As long as there is a market for them and light regulations on them. There nothing anyone can do. Sad but true.

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