Thursday, October 29, 2009

Whales, dolphins.... and tuna!?

Hi there, me again. So I don't really keep up with South Park all that much anymore, but every now and then I watch when they cover an issue that I enjoy - something about hearing them ridicule both sides of the argument and show that everyone is if not full of shit, at least partially containing shit, or shit-like, substance in some capacity. This week's episode was more of the same, covering Sea Shepherd and 98% of the world's lack to comprehend why Japan wants to hunt whales and dolphins. Yes that's right, there's also dolphin hunting, but from my understanding it's mostly only in a small village called Taiji in Wakayama-ken in a festival that's been going on for quite a while.... and Sea World (watch the new South Park episode here).

Now I'm not going to bother giving my entire opinion on the whole whale hunting thing again, but let's just say that I've had whale meat before and feel that as long as their numbers are kept sustainable, hunt away. I will say that to me this is a different issue than with dolphin hunting, as dolphins are in no way anywhere near being extinct or endangered, so the issue is more one of intelligence and, well let's be honest, cuteness. I'm sure there have been studies to back this up somewhere, but beautiful people have a marked advantage in life, and the dolphin case to me is an extension of this into the animal world. Pigs are really intelligent creatures, and yet we keep dumb chihuahuas as pets and stick them in stupid Hollywood movies while we have 101 tasty ways to get a pig onto your plate and in your belly.

Ok, so now I've given you the background on the whales and dolphins - where does the tuna come in, you say? Well look no further than today's headlines to find that an organization in Europe is in agreement with significant reductions in fishing of the Atlantic bluefin tuna, of which stocks are said to be as low as 15% of their original numbers. This is in response to the EU talks of enacting a ban on tuna fishing within its waters to keep the species going. There was also a ban on fishing of certain other species of tuna in the Atlantic for 2 months of last year. As you may or may not know, Japan is the world's largest consumer of tuna, which is a popular staple for sashimi and sushi. Sushi has gained in popularity worldwide in recent years, but that's nothing... do you know how much tuna Japan consumes? Really? They fish more than 300,000 metric tons every year, and yet still have the rest of the world bringing their tuna to Tsukiji market to sell more of top of that. That's 300,000 METRIC TONS, which means that if you had 30,000 dump trucks that could carry 10 tons of tuna each... then no one else would be able to drive anywhere because that's a lot of frickin' tuna.

So, now to bring this all together. Here we have Japan, which has shown that they really like eating fish and other bounties of the sea, even more than they care about what the rest of the world thinks of their eating habits. On the other hand we have a species of fish that is thought to be all too common wind up being endangered because one country eats 1,000 international space stations worth of it on an annual basis. Will Japan be willing to curtail its hunting to let numbers get back into a sustainable figure, and what will this mean for sushi lovers worldwide? Who will think of the tuna!?

Well the answer is that Japan has already agreed to cut back its tuna fishing for a whole 2 months over a 2 year period, so I'm guessing this is one fish they're willing to play ball on. This latest news may mean even more cuts than the measly 5% cutback the Japanese fishers have agreed to thus far. They agreed that tuna is yummy, and thus it would be ashamed to deprive the world of it for a lifetime by stuffing our faces with it now. Looking at the way things are going though, I'm guessing you're going to see less tuna now, and possibly even higher prices for a while if things get too bad. So you heard it here- be responsible next time you do sushi, order the anago.

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