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Partner National Geographic Channel

  • A single bluefin tuna, prized for sushi meat, can sell for thousands of dollars at market; this incredible potential payoff has led to intense fishing. In some areas, such as in the Mediterranean Sea, bluefin are caught when they gather to spawn. Fishers use huge purse seine nets that allow them to catch hundreds of fish at once. This and other types of intense commercial fishing have led to the decline of the species. In order to sustain the bluefin populations, regulations state that U.S. fishers may only catch bluefin tuna with rod and reel or hand-thrown harpoons, and the fish must measure a minimum length of 185 centimeters (73 inches). Additionally, there is a limit to how many bluefin tuna may be caught each year.

    1. How have bluefin tuna populations changed since the 1960s?

      The population of Atlantic bluefin tuna has declined dramatically.

    2. Why are fishers so motivated to fish for bluefin tuna?

      The fish are sold at very high prices.

    3. Why does Carl Safina recommend a moratorium, or not allowing fishing of bluefin tuna, for a few years?

      Stopping fishing for a few years would allow young fish to grow old enough to breed and reproduce, allowing the population to increase.

  • Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry
    conservation Noun

    management of a natural resource to prevent exploitation, destruction, or neglect.

    Encyclopedic Entry: conservation
    fishery Noun

    industry or occupation of harvesting fish, either in the wild or through aquaculture.

    fish stock Noun

    amount of fish available to be harvested in a specific area at a specific time.

    overfish Verb

    to harvest aquatic life to the point where species become rare in the area.

    population Noun

    total number of people or organisms in a particular area.

    spawn Verb

    to give birth to.

    spawning grounds Noun

    area where fish come each year to reproduce.

    sustainable fishery Noun

    industry of harvesting fish or shellfish that can be maintained without damaging the ecosystem or fish population.

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