"Over 90 percent of the catch is juveniles, caught in nursery and spawning areas," she explained to Discovery News. "Literally, the zero-to-three-year age class, so they're being caught on their spawning grounds before they can reproduce, with no catch limit – and gee whiz, we're at 3.6 percent of the original population. I wonder why?"
Amazingly, she says, the first catch limit for the species wasn't established until last year, and even then only in the eastern range of a species that migrates across the Pacific Ocean. It didn't take long for it to be exceeded.
"The 2012-2013 catch was not to exceed 10,000 metric tons, and specifically not to exceed 5,600 metric tons in 2012," she explained. "However, in 2012, the catch was more than 6,600 metric tons and so the fishery was shut down in August."
The ISC assessment comes just days after a Pacific bluefin was sold for a record $1.76 million at Japan's Tsukiji fish auction. And while such exorbitant prices are at least as much a function of bidders willing to take a massive loss in exchange for the publicity attached to buying the first bluefin of the season, monetary value and ecological impact are hardly unconnected.