The ocean may be full of mysteries but one thing is for sure — commercial fishing industries are providing tuna for poke bowls and are selling at a rapid rate with unsustainable price tags.
Poke bowls are all the rage and becoming a serious problem as fast casual restaurants serving tuna are popping up all over Southern California.
Some restaurants compile these dishes with healthy vegetables, crunchy condiments and sauces to compliment the fish. However, what some people might not know is that most tuna used in the U.S. and the rest of the world is that it is overfished, driven by an industry’s greed for money and devastating the oceans.
In the tuna industry, profits are the main goal regardless of unsustainability and negligent fishing practices.
Just like tuna, commercial fisherman set out packs relying on costly fishing technology and tracking migration patterns. Fisherman hunt for these valuable fish and snatch them from their natural habitats only to be sliced and smashed against tongues and dipped in soy sauce for tuna lovers to indulge in.
Customers who are ordering tuna are often unconscious or unaware of the type of tuna they’re actually chewing.
There are several types of tuna species but the most common type that is found in poke shops is the Yellowfin tuna, also known as Ahi tuna, and officially categorized as overfished. The second most commonly used type is the Bluefin tuna, which is categorized as endangered.
Despite tuna being overfished and endangered, the industry will not stop fishing. According to reports collected by the PEW Charitable Trusts in 2016, total tuna fishing was estimated at $42 billion dollars to the worldwide economy.
A profitable fish it is indeed but more importantly it is a key species to help balance the food chain in the ocean’s ecosystem.
As appealing and delicious as these fish may be, it’s crucial to be aware of the devastating loops tuna must go through to land on your plates.
On another note, there’s a term in the fishing industry called bycatch and it occurs when commercial sized fishing boats catch other species of fish and marine animals that are not intended to be caught.
The process involves casting out enormous nets which stretch out for miles to reel in the big bucks.
Imagine millions of animals including sharks, dolphins and even turtles ferociously flapping their fins, attempting to escape an economic death net but unable to escape the fishing trawls.
In addition to bycatch, sharks that are unable to escape the nets are often robbed of their fins and thrown back into the ocean left to die.
This is often done because many countries have strict laws and bans against the direct fishing of sharks, so when caught “unintentionally” their fins become another profitable product that can be sold. Thankfully California made it illegal to possess or sell shark fins in 2011.
According to National Geographic “an estimated 40 million sharks are killed yearly for their fins. They add to the devastating global fish catch: nearly 100 million tons.”
Sharks are, if not, the most important species to maintaining a stable ocean ecosystem and with sharks also being jeopardized for the sake of a lunch is ignorant on customers and the fishing industry.
Tuna has been clearly overfished and for what? For sky rocketing profits and to sit pretty in round plastic poke bowls with condiments.
Additionally, unsustainable fishing practices have taken over sustainable fishing practices like the pole fishing business who are unable to compete with commercial operations.
If fish is your thing become aware of the kind of seafood you eat check out seafoodwatch.org.