Rejecting a petition from environmental groups, the Trump administration announced Monday that it will not list Pacific bluefin tuna — a torpedo-shaped fish that can grow to 1,000 pounds and which sells for $100,000 or more per fish in Japanese sushi markets — as endangered, despite that fact that the animal’s population has fallen 97 percent.
Even with heavy fishing pressure, the steely fish, which swim 6,000 miles between California and Asia, still number about 1.6 million, officials from NOAA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, said Monday.
“The Pacific bluefin tuna does not meet the definition of threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act; that is, it’s not likely to become extinct either now or in the foreseeable future,” said Chris Yates, assistant regional administrator for protected resources at the NOAA Fisheries West Coast Region in Long Beach.
“The population has been at low levels before and has rebounded,” he added.
Environmental groups, however, were disappointed. They have compared bluefin tuna to elephant tusks or shark fins — products that come from an important, but vulnerable, species and command high prices for status value.
“If the paychecks of fishery managers and federal officials were tied to the status of this marvelous creature, they would have done the right thing,” said ecologist Carl Safina, a veteran ocean activist in New York.
In June 2016, a dozen environmental groups, including Greenpeace, the Sierra Club, Defenders of Wildlife and the Center for Biological Diversity, filed a petition…
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