Bluefin tuna.

I’m never sure how seriously to take enviro-scare articles in the mainstream media, although this bit on the threat to bluefin tuna populations seemed somewhat well-researched, keeping the hysteria to quotes from researchers. The article refers to the northern bluefin tuna simply as the bluefin tuna and notes that it has nearly been fished out of existence, with the global population dropping by an estimated 90% in the last thirty years.

Bluefin toro, when it’s fresh, is among the best kinds of sushi you’ll ever have, up there with yellowtail belly and Pacific salmon in my book. Bluefin toro, a fatty cut from the tuna’s belly, falls apart in your mouth, like a very high-quality steak cooked rare, but without the slightly grassy flavor. It is, however, quite expensive – I’ve paid $10 a piece for it before and I’ve seen it cost more than that. I rarely have it, and if living without it for a few years will help restock the oceans, I’m fine with that.

Here’s what I’m not fine with:

Several smaller ICCAT members such as Guatemala and Panama had initially backed a proposal supported by the U.S. and environmental groups to halt all bluefin fishing for nine months of the year, and to crack down hard on violators. But European officials persuaded them to instead adopt a reduced quota of 22,000 tons in 2009, and 19,950 tons in 2011. That certainly represents a sharp drop from last year’s estimated global sales of 61,000 tons of bluefin tuna — and even from this year’s official quota of about 29,000 tons — but it’s still far above the 15,000 tons that marine scientists advise is the limit that can be fished without without the species becoming extinct.

You know, the Europeans do like to lecture us on environmental issues (Kyoto comes to mind), but damn if they don’t change their tune when their own self-interest is at stake. I often say, half-jokingly, that I’ll turn down my thermostat and buy a car with better gas mileage when Russia, Brazil, and Nigeria stop cutting down all of their trees. (Nigeria has already wiped out over 90% of its original forest stock. Good work.) Maybe I should add to that quip one about only giving up eating bluefin toro when the Europeans agree to stop overfishing it.