Pacific Tuna

Pacific tunas are in terrible trouble. The U.S. Pacific tuna fleet is heading west, again, to hunt the remaining tunas. 

Almost $400 million worth of harvested tunas annually trump conservation efforts to protect the ocean. At this rapacious rate all the Pacific tunas including skipjack are condemned.

There’s not enough ocean or sea life, especially tunas, to sustain the onslaught of 17 Pacific nations including the U.S., Australia and New Zealand and their insatiable demand for billions of cans of tunas including skipjacks.

Three hundred thousand tons of catch, mostly skipjack, are the take. It’s an inconceivable volume of sea life and that’s just one season’s worth of killing nature’s tuna in the Pacific Ocean. 

And then there’s the bycatch – seabirds, sharks, rays, sea turtles, porpoises, dolphins, whales and so many other forms of life — haphazardly killed and then disdainfully discarded. 

Not only is this enough to make a grown man drop to his knees and weep – it’s ecocide!

The oceans are fished-out and the latest El Niño – the biggest and strongest – has adversely impacted all sea life, including causing the longest coral bleaching event ever recorded as well as significantly reducing food for the remaining Pacific tunas and skipjacks. 

Pacific Yellowfin tuna is down 38 percent from its original spawning population. Pacific Bigeye tunas are even lower at 16 percent. And Pacific Bluefin tuna is as low as 3 percent of its original population – it’s right on the brink of extinction.

Unless the entire Pacific tuna industry is shutdown there will be nothing left by 2030.

So what can each of us do to help the tuna? Simple – don’t eat tuna. In fact, please consider not eating any sea life.

There are as many as 51 trillion pieces of plastic in the ocean. Ocean plastics are perfect sponges for persistent organic pollutants like PCBs, DDT, pesticides, methylmercury, biphenyls, phalates and other deadly poisons. 

Tiny pieces of ocean plastics resemble fish eggs, which are consumed by small fish and in turn those fish are prey for larger predators. As those persistent organic pollutants move up the food chain, concentrations of poisons are biomagnified. So by the time an apex predator such as tunas, sharks, dolphins, whales or humans munch those poisons from ocean plastics, it’s 100,000 times stronger. Forewarned is forearmed.

The oceans are in peril. Please help by protecting all sea life because we cannot live on our planet without vibrant life in the sea. 

Love is the solution. 

Earth Dr Reese Halter is the author of Shepherding the Sea: The Race to Save our Oceans.

Dr. Reese Halter is an eco-physiologist specializing in Earth's life support systems.

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