Saturday, March 20, 2010

Tuna = Elephants

I was very upset yesterday. Emotionally gutted. It was a tough day at work and the news I read in the morning meant every poke was a bit sharper.

Remember when I said I'd tell you why eating tuna was like eating elephants?

We're fishing and eating the tuna to extinction. Unless you've been living under a rock you've probably already heard that. But then we do hear that, don't we? Cod, shrimp, salmon. Seafood in general, right? We eat/fish/farm too much and it's bad and we should stop but this one piece of salmon fillet won't matter and isn't it delicious?

But the animals we are eating to extinction have never, to my knowledge, been so endangered that CITES has been mentioned and international bodies have stepped in to make fishing a species illegal. That's how bad it is.

So on Thursday 18 March when the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species in Doha, Qatar voted overwhelmingly to reject the ban on trade in tuna (and polar bears, incidentally), I was upset.

As Barry Estabrook writes, soon tuna may no longer be endangered, they may be extinct.

So go enjoy your tuna fish sandwich, while you can. Please make sure it's served with a generous helping of shame and a sprinkling of doom, because we all know that one species affects another and that this is bad news for more than just tuna.

Oh, and you may want to include a side of elephant. Because the convention will also likely lift a ban on the sale of elephant ivory and then you can tell your children that you ate the last of two extinct animals.

Full disclosure: There are two tins of tuna in my cupboard. They are the last tins I will ever buy.

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