The bluefin tuna, labeled a species of concern by the NOAA and listed on the IUCN’s Red List of threatened species, is rapidly falling victim to overfishing. Their populations continue to decline to the point that the price of the threatened fish has skyrocketed, with one massive bluefin recently being sold in Tokyo for $736,000 USD.
So, National Geographic’s decision to air a series following the fishing of bluefin tuna is not sitting well with conservationists. The network’s new series “Wicked Tuna” is set to premiere this Sunday, and follows a group of bluefin fishermen. “When one bluefin can bring in as much as $20,000—they’ll do whatever it takes to hook up,” Nat Geo’s site says.
Terry Garcia, executive vice president of mission programs at Nat Geo says that the series will also have a message about the importance of preserving the species. “Educating and illuminating this issue for the public is something we need to do. It hasn’t been, up to this point. I was in favor of doing this show if we coupled it with a solid [conservation] message about what’s been going on with the bluefin … this is a complicated issue,” said Garcia.
However, others say this show will send the wrong message. “Bluefin tuna need help, not a TV show glorifying the hunt for them. If we keep going down this road, these fish face the very real prospect of extinction, and one of the mightiest fish ever to swim the oceans will be gone forever,” said Catherine Kilduff of the Center for Biological Diversity, which is also encouraging the public to pledge to boycott any restaurants serving bluefin tuna.
The Center for Biological Diversity adds that while the show “does pay brief lip-service to the plight of the bluefin tuna its focus is on the thrill of the chase for these increasingly severely threatened animals.”
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