Atlantic Bluefin Tuna (Thunnus thynnus)

Map showing the range of the eastern and western populations of Atlantic bluefin tuna and their spawning grounds in the Gulf of Mexico and the Mediterranean Sea.
This map is based on electronic tagging of Atlantic bluefin tuna from 1996 to 2007. (Tag-A-Giant Foundation and Stanford University)
Because of consumer demand for sashimi (a fresh raw seafood dish), the fishing pressure on Atlantic bluefin tuna is extraordinarily high. The sale of a single bluefin tuna made headlines in 2011 when it fetched nearly $400,000 in a Japanese market. Genetically distinct stocks of this species live on the western and eastern sides of the Atlantic Ocean. Both are being fished and caught.
Preview Tuna at a fish market
Buyers examine tuna lining the floor of Tsukiji Fish Market in Tokyo, Japan. Ounce per ounce, tuna is one of the most valuable varieties of seafood. In 2011, a single bluefin tuna sold for close to $400,000 in a Japanese market.  (Fisherman via Wikimedia Commons)

Not surprisingly, populations of Atlantic bluefin tuna have declined to very low levels, and the species is listed as endangered. Scientists continue to recommend reduced catches. Some even propose a fishing moratorium. There are efforts to manage tuna fishing in the western Atlantic. But overfishing continues in the eastern Atlantic, where total allowable catches are much higher than those recommended by scientists.

As a consumer, you can choose what kinds of seafood to buy. Visit the Ocean Portal's Sustainable Seafood section to learn more about how seafood is harvested and to help make wise seafood choices of your own.

September 2009