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Conservationists outraged over National Geographic's bluefin tuna series 'Wicked Tuna'Conservationists outraged over National Geographic's bluefin tuna series 'Wicked Tuna'

National Geographic Under Fire for Bluefin Tuna Series

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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.”

Photo Credit: holbox / http://www.shutterstock.com

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  • Artemis

    And what’s with the adjective “wicked”? At least when they’re all fished out we’ll be left with some beautiful images to remember by.

  • zrxgrim

    This isn’t the story of 200 ft. factory ships scooping every tuna of every size (and everything around them) out of the water and processing them. It’s about artisan rod and reel fishing techniques on small 25-32′ boats crewed by 2-3 people. Any tuna hooked under 73″ is quickly and humanely released to grow larger, spawn, and continue the population of the bluefin.

    Don’t always believe the knee-jerk reactionary Eco-Frauds and do some research on the NOAA, the way it does business with (for) big business and is pushing the small boat fisherman and their lifestyle into extinction to FAVOR large scale factory processing that devastates species and lines corporate and political pockets.

    This isn’t to say the bluefin isn’t in danger in every other fishing territory in the world, but the US has the strongest, strictest, and most enforced regulations regarding these fish. And when one of the boats “hooks up” it’s even money the blue will get away. Not so with the factory ships.

    Artemis: “Wicked” in this context is an adjective used to mean “good”, “awesome”, or other positive note. Not the wicked witch of the west type of wicked (that would be Jane Lubchenko).

    Have a nice day, I hope as the series heads towards its conclusion some of the people that have read this article have checked it out, done some independant research and realize the threat to blusfin tuna isn’t in US waters.

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