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A single bluefin tuna, prized for sushi meat, can sell for thousands of dollars at market; this incredible potential payoff has led to intense fishing. In some areas, such as in the Mediterranean Sea, bluefin are caught when they gather to spawn. Fishers use huge purse seine nets that allow them to catch hundreds of fish at once. This and other types of intense commercial fishing have led to the decline of the species. In order to sustain the bluefin populations, regulations state that U.S. fishers may only catch bluefin tuna with rod and reel or hand-thrown harpoons, and the fish must measure a minimum length of 185 centimeters (73 inches). Additionally, there is a limit to how many bluefin tuna may be caught each year.

  1. How have bluefin tuna populations changed since the 1960s?

  2. Why are fishers so motivated to fish for bluefin tuna?

  3. Why does Carl Safina recommend a moratorium, or not allowing fishing of bluefin tuna, for a few years?


management of a natural resource to prevent exploitation, destruction, or neglect.


industry or occupation of harvesting fish, either in the wild or through aquaculture.

fish stock

amount of fish available to be harvested in a specific area at a specific time.


to harvest aquatic life to the point where species become rare in the area.


total number of people or organisms in a particular area.


to give birth to.

spawning grounds

area where fish come each year to reproduce.

sustainable fishery

industry of harvesting fish or shellfish that can be maintained without damaging the ecosystem or fish population.