Save the bluefin tuna

Lai Ying-kit
Lai Ying-kit |

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A gourmet tuna is being fished to extinction. Lai Ying-kit asks if the public will accept a ban.

You may love the taste, but readers Young Post spoke to agree with a proposed ban on the international trade of bluefin tuna. Sushi and sashimi are popular eats in Hong Kong. That creamy piece of fish on your tongue can be a delight. But with some of the types of fish used already facing extinction, it may be time to stop eating them.

Stocks of the Atlantic bluefin tuna have crashed in recent decades because of industrial-scale fishing.

The tuna makes for luxurious sushi dishes. In Japan, the world's largest consumer, regular fish auctions are held and a large fish can fetch a huge sum. Largely because of this high demand, the number of bluefin tuna has plunged more than 80 per cent since 1970, according to an international body on endangered species.

This month, 175 countries signed up to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species are meeting in Qatar to discuss and vote on how to preserve the tuna.

In Hong Kong, a group was created on Facebook in January to protest against eating bluefin tuna. The group, which has now 6,120 members, also calls for a boycott of a Hong Kong sushi chain which has brought the endangered fish to its tables in recent years.

In Japan, which imports about 80 per cent of Atlantic bluefin, the proposed ban is fiercely opposed. Officials and fish traders have vowed to defy any total trade ban.

At Tokyo's Tsukiji fish market, where some 2,000 tuna are auctioned each day, traders said a ban on the trade was not the only option for preservation efforts. They said the Atlantic bluefin would not become extinct if fishermen only caught the larger ones and put younger ones back into the sea to reproduce.

Additional reporting by junior reporter Michelle Cheng

Chan Ching-tung, 17

I never eat it! It is an endangered species that should be protected. We should not keep consuming it. Although companies may earn a lot by selling it, money is not everything. If the fish become extinct, the loss we will suffer is beyond measure.

Rachel Ho, 16

I am a big sushi eater and like tuna. Next time at the sushi bar, I will ask for other tuna species. I will also check the menu carefully to make sure what I am ordering does not contain bluefin tuna.

Kim Tse, 16

I feel a bit ashamed to say I ate bluefin sushi quite often in the past without knowing it is endangered. From now on, I will stop eating it. It is tasty and a luxurious dish, but nevertheless we should stop. Having a part in killing off a species will make me feel unforgivably guilty.

Cheng Chuek-hei, 15

From now on, I will go as far as to stop buying it at all, to be environmentally friendly and to help maintain the ecology. I support the proposed ban on the trade in the bluefin tuna. Undoubtedly, even without a ban, Hong Kong should stop selling it.

Patrick Sun, 16

Many Hong Kong people do not know this tuna is facing extinction. Some shops even use the sale of this luxurious fish as a promotion tactic. I hope more can be done to raise public awareness. We should call for people to stop eating it.

Pong Chun-piu, 21

I don't eat it. We know bluefin tuna is heavily targeted and I definitely support the proposed ban. Also, we have many other types of fish to eat. For instance, salmon and yellowtail: there are plenty of them. We should not choose one that's on the verge of extinction.

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