Atlantic Bluefin Tuna

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The Atlantic bluefin tuna (Thunnus thynnus) is a species of tuna also known as the northern bluefin tuna (mainly when including Pacific bluefin as a subspecies), giant bluefin tuna [when exceeding 150 kg (330 lb)], and formerly as the tunny. People often call it Atlantic Bluefish Tuna which sound very much like the correct name.

gray tuna fish
Bluefin Tuna

Atlantic bluefin tuna is one of the most expensive foods. People use tuna especially in Japanese raw fish dishes. The Japanese only already consume 80% of Atlantic and Pacific bluefin tunas.  Bluefin tuna sashimi is a particular delicacy in Japan. For example, an Atlantic bluefin caught off eastern United States sold for US$247,000 at the Tsukiji fish market in Tokyo in 2008. This high price is considerably less than the highest prices paid for Pacific bluefin. Prices were highest in the late 1970s and 1980s.

Atlantic bluefin tuna can grow up to 680 kg (1,500 lb) in weight. It rivals the black marlin, blue marlin, and swordfish as the largest Perciformes. Throughout history, people have highly prized the Atlantic bluefin tuna as a food fish. Besides their commercial value as food, the great size, speed, and power they display as predators has attracted the admiration of fishermen, writers, and scientists.

Atlantic bluefins are native to both the western and eastern Atlantic Ocean, as well as the Mediterranean Sea. They have become extinct in the Black Sea. The Atlantic bluefin tuna is a close relative of the other two bluefin tuna species: the Pacific bluefin tuna and the southern bluefin tuna.

Organic Tuna and Health Benefits

‘Organic’ tuna farms are located throughout the world. Many organic tuna farms catch the fish within the ocean. They then confine it to the “farm” in order to grow it to maximum size before selling it. ‘Normal’ tuna can be dangerous to eat, especially for pregnant women and young children, because of the mercury content. Tuna packs a lot of protein into a single serving. Some consumers turn to organic tuna in an effort to lessen their chances of exposure to toxins such as mercury.

tuna with lemon and greens salad on black plate

However, also organic tuna farmers face unique difficulties with regard to raising tuna without exposure to certain toxins. Even tuna that fishers catch in the ocean which they sell without any processing whatsoever may contain pollutants and toxins. And therefore has the potential to pass these toxins on to the people eating the tuna.

For this reason, truly organic tuna cannot have swum free in the ocean because there is simply no way to certify it as organic. This is because all organic foods are subject to rigorous testing as well as evidence as to what the food has been exposed to. Tuna originating from the wild cannot meet these rigid documentation requirements.

Commercial fisheries

The Atlantic bluefin tuna has been the foundation of one of the world’s most lucrative commercial fisheries. Especially for the market of Japanese foods like sushi and sashimi which people all over the world love.

Bluefin Tuna Fishing
Tuna Sportfishing

Professional fishermen using longlines, purse seines, assorted hook-and-line gear, heavy rods and reels, and harpoons captured most bluefins commercially. Recreationally, since the 1930s sports fishermen fish for bluefins as one of the most important big-game species. Particularly in the United States, but also in Canada, Spain, France, and Italy.


This commercial importance has led to severe overfishing. The International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas affirmed in October 2009 that Atlantic bluefin tuna stocks have declined dramatically over the last 40 years. By 72% in the Eastern Atlantic, and by 82% in the Western Atlantic.

On 16 October 2009, Monaco formally recommended endangered Atlantic bluefin tuna for an Appendix I CITES listing and international trade ban. In early 2010, European officials, led by the French ecology minister, increased pressure to ban the commercial fishing of bluefin tuna internationally.  However, member states of the European Union, which are collectively responsible for most bluefin tuna overfishing, later abstained from voting in a UN proposal to protect the species from international trade.

Atlantic Bluefin Tuna
Atlantic Bluefin Tuna


Japanese began eating tuna sushi in the 1840s, when a large catch came into Edo [old Tokyo] one season. A chef marinated a few pieces in soy sauce and served it as nigiri sushi. At that time, these fish were nicknamed shibi — “four days” — because chefs would bury them for four days to mellow their bloody taste.

Originally, fish with red flesh were looked down on in Japan as a low-class food, and white fish were much preferred….Fish with red flesh tended to spoil quickly and develop a noticeable stench, so in the days before refrigeration, the Japanese aristocracy despised them, and this attitude was adopted by the citizens of Edo. – Michiyo Murata

Michiyo Murata

By the 1930s, tuna sushi was commonplace in Japan.

Source: Wikipedia


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