The End of a Bluefin Era

All across the globe, sushi chefs are cutting way back on the amount of bluefin tuna they include in their menus.  Why, you ask? Well, bluefin tuna has recently been added to the endangered species list because it has been catastrophically overfished.

I know. We are all so saddened to read that the bluefin is being irreversibly overfished.  But don’t worry sushi lovers, chefs across the globe are finding new and exciting ways to fill the bluefin gaps on their menus.  For example, many chefs are now using Kindai tuna, which is raised from eggs through a process called cycle farming.

Cycle farming extracts eggs from other fish that were grown from eggs hatched in the same lab. Yummy! Lab raised tuna. Doesn’t sound to appealing does it? But despite what people may think, cycle farming reduces the chance of overfishing tuna, and helps ensure that those of us who love this delicious fish will be able to enjoy some form of it for generations to come.

And though Kindai is taking over as a substitute to bluefin, not all people view it as a viable alternative. Some restaurateurs refuse to serve Kindai, claiming, among other things, that Kindai doesn’t offer the same flavor combinations that we have come to love in bluefin.  But given the recent supply and demand problems, what other choice is there?

Because the demand for bluefin is so high, and the supply is so low, it may come as no surprise that one bluefin sold for $177,000 at an auction in Japan last month. Shocking, I know, but consider this.  So much time and care goes into producing Kindai tuna, it costs significantly more then wild tuna.  While wild bluefin may sell for around $20 a pound, Kindai tuna is said to cost approximately $30 per pound.

Next month, a convention on International Trade in Endangered Species will meet in Qatar. When they do, they will debate whether or not to enforce and international trade ban of bluefin, 80 percent of which is sold to Japan.