Updated 11:29 AM EDT, Tue, Jun 16, 2020

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Sushi Market Pushing Pacific Bluefin Tuna Closer to Extinction

Pacific Bluefin Tuna

(Photo : Pacific Bluefin Tuna

The Pacific bluefin tuna is at the verge of extinction because of the never-ending demand for the fish in the sushi and sashimi markets in Japan and other parts of Asia.

The Swiss-based International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has already upgraded the tuna's status from "least concern" to "vulnerable," on its Red List of Threatened Species. This means tuna are one step closer to extinction.

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The Pacific bluefin joined the Chinese pufferfish, the American eel, the Chinese cobra and the Australian black grass-dart butterfly on the IUCN's Red List of Threatened Species.

"Each update of the IUCN 'red list' makes us realize that our planet is constantly losing its incredible diversity of life, largely due to our destructive actions to satisfy our growing appetite for resources," said IUCN's director-general Julia Marton-Lefevre.

Bluefin tuna is widely targeted by the fishing industry to provide sashimi and sushi products. Japan imports more than 80 percent of the raw tuna for traditional dishes like sushi. A 200 kilogram (440 pound) Hon-maguro, a Japanese bluefin variety, cost US$1.76 million in 2013

As most of the fish caught are juveniles that have not able to reproduce, the population has dropped by 19 percent to 33 percent over the past 22 years.

Various fisheries should implement conservation and management measures such as a reduction in the catches of juvenile fish, in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean to improve the status of the Pacific bluefin tuna, said IUCN Species Survival Commission Tuna and Billfish Specialist Group Chair Bruce Collette.

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