I was disappointed by the Sunday New York Times Magazine piece on bluefin tuna. Not because the author, Paul Greenberg, said stocks have been catastrophically overexploited — they have been overexploited, and their management has been a catastrophe.
And not because he waxes on about what a magnificent animal the bluefin is; I happen to agree.
What irks me is his disingenuous invocation of sustainability as the issue.
When he writes that "no single nation is ready to commit to a sustainable future for the fish," you'd almost think he has a case, albeit somewhat overstated. The United States has been and remains unambiguously determined to protect bluefin and has fought for lower quotas and stricter enforcement as a member of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas.
But the truth is, that's beside the point; Greenberg doesn't want a sustainable fishery, he wants no fishery at all. Read on.
"...We have come to see the whale not as something we fish for, not as something we farm, but as something we appreciate and maybe empathize with. Instead of expanding our stomachs or our wallets, whales have expanded our consciousness, our very humanity.
"So we have to ask ourselves, is there any rational argument for humans to eat bluefin tuna, wild, ranched or farmed? Is the fish really so special that no substitute will do?"
He's entitled to this point of view, of course, but I don't see the connection with sustainability.
Greenberg apparently did not speak with any tuna fishermen for this story. He did, however, go out on a Greenpeace shipand spent time at a fish farm, giving each venue a full measure of credibility in his article.
(Not that I did: the fish farmer's account that he turned to aquaculture after encountering a Polynesian elder weeping because the fishing season had closed "while there are still some left!" smelled fresh out of the barn to me.)
Thank you for your time.
Editor & Publisher, National Fisherman