Cool It With The Sushi, The Bluefin Tuna Population Is Down 97 Percent

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Yeah, we get it. Sushi is delicious. We Americans love it so much that we’ve started to turn it into burrito and burger form, and we’re not judging—it’s just that, at some point, the fish are going to run out. Or, more specifically, the Bluefin tuna are going to run out. Last January, after a restaurant owner in Japan paid $117,000 for a 41-pound Bluefin tuna, we mentioned the problem of the fish’s dwindling population.

Now, the latest statistics, according to a new report out from the International Scientific Committee for Tuna and Tuna-like Species in the North Pacific Ocean (phew!), paint an even bleaker picture of the fish’s future: its numbers are down 97% from historic levels thanks to overfishing.

Why Bluefin? Glad you asked. Apparently, it tastes really, really, ridiculously good. “One of the most delicious things in the world,” according to Bruce Mattel, Associate Dean of food production at the Culinary Institute of America .

That doesn’t mean there isn’t a decent substitute for Bluefin out there. Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch website (which is a great tool for finding out whether the sushi you love is sustainable, by the way) recommends albacore, or “shiro maguro” as a similar-tasting alternative.

In the meantime, the Bluefin problem isn’t about to get any better. Because the fish are so rare, prices are being driven up, making it an even more lucrative catch. And, as we mentioned back in January, 90% of the Bluefin tuna being caught are too young to reproduce. We are literally eating the last generation of Bluefin, people. Yikes!

So what can you do? Don’t order Bluefin if you happen to find it on a menu, clearly. And just think about your choices in general. Maybe it’s time to try out that vegan sushi roll on your favorite sushi joint’s menu?