In political circles, it's well known that Fridays (especially Friday afternoons and evenings, and especially Fridays before three-day weekends) are the best time to release politically sensitive news. No one is paying attention, and no one will pay attention for days.
Now to the news. Friday, the U.S. government decided not to list the bluefin tuna as endangered.
Perhaps no other fish has received so much attention in recent years from environmentalists. The bluefin tuna has become emblematic for the problems with industrialized fishing, which targets big meaty predators like the bluefin tuna, sells them for ungodly sums, and in the process depletes the oceans of its top predators.
Stocks of bluefin tuna have dropped as much as 80% in 50 years, as fishing has ramped up to feed the sushi market worldwide, but especially in Japan. A warm-blooded fish, bluefin tuna reach weights up to 1,000 pounds and lengths of up to 13 feet. It races at speeds up to 55 mpg, making it one of the fastest fish int he ocean.
The bluefin tuna has long topped the list of "eco-worst" fish on sustainable seafood lists, like Environmental Defense Fund's Seafood Selector. It's plight has been highlighted in such films as End of the Line, narrated by Ted Danson. Recently, it's been boycotted by thousands of restaurants and restaurant-goers, thanks to a campaign organized by the Center for Biological Diversity, which has also petitioned the U.S. government to list the species as threatened or endangered, and to protect it with powers of the Endangered Species Act.
Were dooming this species to extinction without additional protection, said Catherine Kilduff, an oceans attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity.
The decision announced Friday by the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration is only the latest government obstacle to protecting the species. In November, regulators failed to restrict bluefin tuna fishing enough to save the species from overfishing, according to advocates.
NOAA has pledged to reconsider its decision in 2013 after more information is available about about the effects of the BP oil spill on spawning grounds in the Gulf of Mexico, among other indicators of the health of the stock.
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