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#GrapeGate Thanksgiving, A Modest Proposal
By: | Posted: 07/12/2011
This story won’t go away; there is some bad mojo at work here. I think when all is said and done there is going to be some big shocking back-story on this deal. The whole thing is fishy in the extreme and the people most affected are this poor guy who got a deal of a lifetime that turned out to be all smoke and mirrors, and you and I, who tuned in expecting a fair competition and got a whole lot of crap on our plate.
Do you know about this? You should. Great food, great Karaoke, and it all serves a good cause.
Did you see this? Former Twin Citian doing great work in Boston. Anyone know of someone doing this here in Minnesota?
Over the last 45 years, I have tracked the tuna strictly from an anecdotal standpoint. When I was five, I vividly remember coming off a charter boat with my dad in Montauk Long Island and seeing 400-pound Atlantic tuna being piled high in open flatbeds for the haul to the mid-island pet food canneries. No one wanted it. A decade or so later, I watched the first Japanese fish wholesalers making deals on the docks for helicopter access transport tuna from ships at sea to JFK. Destination Tokyo. I watched the first sushi restaurants in America become popular, watched the Russian and Chinese middle class come on-line and almost quadruple demand for tuna overnight. I sat on boats and talked to the last tuna fishing families in small towns such as Marzamemi in Sicily, or Essaouria in Morocco, or Appia Samoa and heard stories of the days when hundreds of boats put out to sea each day . . . now just one or two. Why? Because there are no fish left. And I have been to tuna auctions in a dozen Japanese cities as well and watched tuna fetch prices in the thousands, sometimes tens of thousands of dollars. I even bought a few.
This morning I read this on Huffpo:
“Eating tuna is risky. It has been known to lead to mercury poisioning, character assassination, mass extinction and poverty.
But it doesn't have to be confusing.
That's part of why the latest cross-sectional report from the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) on threat levels for billfish and scombrid species was greeted with relief when it arrived at HuffPost Food HQ. (Tuna is a sub-class of scombrids, which also include bonito, mackerel and Spanish mackerel.) Its data on tuna threat levels are both more comprehensive and more fine-grained than data at the better-known Monterey Bay Aquarium.
The IUCN report indicates that five of the eight species in the Thunnus species, which comprise the eight major varieties of tuna, are threatened with extinction. The two species facing the greatest threats are the Atlantic bluefin (Thunnus tynnus) and the southern bluefin (Thunnus maccoyii), which the IUCN rated endangered and critically endangered respectively. The report classified albacore (Thunnus alalunga) and yellowfin (Thunnus albacares) tuna as near threatened and bigeye (Thunnus obesus) tuna as vulnerable. (Vulnerable is the classification between "near threatened" and "endangered" on the IUCN red list .) Longtail (Thunnus tonggol) tuna are said to be data deficient, while blackfin (Thunnus atalanticus) and Pacific bluefin (Thunnus orientalis) tuna fall under the category "Least Concern."
None of this is great news; at least five, and possibly six, of the eight species of tuna are at risk of extinction, largely because of overfishing. But the resilience of stocks of blackfin and Pacific bluefin tuna is at least heartening. And the report also noted that many species closely related to the major tuna genus, such as skipjack and bonito, are still relatively plentiful. This won't do anything to help the southern bluefin recover; with populations just 5% of what they would be without fishing, it may be too late for them. But it does mean that, if conservation begins soon, we may not lose the last wild food forever.”
Andrew Zimmern is a columnist for Mpls.St.Paul Magazine and the host of Travel Channel's Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern.See bio
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