Remember the days when tuna fish sandwiches were a simple yet reliable lunchbox staple, sharing neck-in-neck popularity with peanut butter and jelly on white? Somewhere along the line, America transitioned its appetite for the academic lunch hour brain food into a full throttle love affair for its sushi-fied incarnation with specialty restaurants quintupling from 1988 – 1998, contributing to the ultimate decline of an entire species.
Today, our global culture’s insatiable hunger for Atlantic Bluefin Tuna (attributed to 40 years of overfishing) has been responsible for a population decline of 97%, which is hard to imagine given their hefty 1500 pound size. As if our appetite for the highly sought after protein source weren’t enough of a threat to its existence, bluefin tuna typically spawn throughout the spring and summer months in the Gulf of Mexico, which as everyone knows, spells doom for the species now that it is tainted with oil. In fact, scientists estimate that billions upon billions of bluefin larvae were likely in the gulf at the time that the Deepwater Horizon spill first occurred and though they have a strong sense of smell (and can probably detect oil), their Gulf spawning instinct is probably stronger.
Entourage star Adrian Grenier – a longtime proponent of various ecological causes – has just filmed a public service announcement for Oceana entitled Going Fast which sheds light on the plight of bluefin tuna. Citing his refusal to “sit back idly while this amazing predator is being pushed to the brink of extinction”, the 34 year old acknowledges that “fishing bluefin at alarming rates” has resulted in a critical time for them that we must address through real world action.
There is a ray of hope for the fish since the Center For Biological Diversity filed a request for endangered species status back in May, but the process will likely take years of analysis and consideration before a final decision is reached. In the meantime, actors such as Grenier using their high profile status to educate the public on environmental concerns such as this is one step in the right direction. Learn more about what you can personally do to help imperiled marine species such as bluefin tuna via Oceana’s website.