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Merwin: Would You Turn Commercial For The Right Price?

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January 06, 2010

Merwin: Would You Turn Commercial For The Right Price?

By John Merwin

Giant bluefin tuna might still be the world’s most expensive fish on the table. A 513-pound bluefin sold yesterday for $177,000 at a wholesale auction in Japan. That’s about $345 a pound for extremely delicious and absurdly expensive sushi. And its also why bluefin are being fished close to extinction.

The international regulatory agency that supposedly governs annual tuna catches among member nations has failed to adequately protect bluefin numbers. The problem is greed--pure and simple.

Which brings up an interesting question. Tempted by that kind of pricing, what would you do as an angler?

Suppose hypothetically that you could sell those tasty wild brook trout you were catching, or maybe those feisty smallmouths. And suppose they could net you $345 a pound. Would you still catch-and-release them? Or catch and sell?

If there were such a legal, high-priced market, those gamefish would of course become rare by overfishing. And that rarity would in turn make the market price even higher, which then creates even more incentive for overfishing.

Once that kind of spiral starts--as it has with bluefin tuna--things can get nasty very quickly. There’s just too much money involved. So how strong is your conscience? If the price were high enough, would you catch-and-sell no matter what?

Comments (12)

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from Koldkut wrote 4 years 14 weeks ago

There would be no more fish anywhere if that happened.....absolutly not!

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from buckhunter wrote 4 years 14 weeks ago

I would never catch and sell "no matter what" as your question states. If it was illegal I would not do it but if I legally caught an endangered fish and could legally sell it to market for big bucks... Well heck yea. I'll feel bad all the way to the bank. The payoff though would have to be in the thousands. I'm not interested in a couple hundred bucks.

If you guys don't hear from me for awhile I'm floating the ocean fishing for a 500 lb. tuna.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Joe_Cermele wrote 4 years 14 weeks ago

First of all, selling a big bluefin is not as easy as catching one and running to the market. They have to be handled properly under certain procedures, you have to know that right people, have the permits. It's a pain, but I've been on docks where Japanese buyers were choppered in to take core samples of a fish.

In my heart I want to say I could never do it, and if I did catch one that big on my own boat, I honestly wouldn't know how to go about selling it. But I can't blame guys for selling them. Boats are expensive, fuel is expensive. A 500-pound BFT is like a winning lottery ticket. You don't just throw that away.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from MLH wrote 4 years 14 weeks ago

I think only bluefins hand caught in certain waters bring those prices. Figure one could probably farm raise brook trout - not so easy with tuna. Just that consumers would have to like trout with a subtle flavor of dry dog food (if you ever ate trout that are fed pellet food you know what I mean).

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from jamesti wrote 4 years 14 weeks ago

if we don't learn from history, this is what happens. when the bluefin are gone another fish will be targeted. it has to stop somewhere.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from hengst wrote 4 years 14 weeks ago

Well thats a horrible question to ask. Unfortunately, being honest I have to say I would no longer catch and release. Money does change things more often than most of us will admit.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Woodstock wrote 4 years 14 weeks ago

In your hypothetical situation, a strong conscience would probably give way to a tragic reality: everybody else would be catching and selling, so there would be no practical effect of you releasing a fish – it would only be caught and sold by the next guy.

It’s a classic example of the “tragedy of the commons”.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from LAKEM0NSTER85 wrote 4 years 14 weeks ago

Man, at $345/LB., they need to regulate boats to go out and use rods/limited amount of lines, to catch a limited amount of tuna. All they would need was a couple good fish, or one weighing 513 lbs. to pay for fuel, a good day's work, & a bonus for the boat leaving these mass harvests in the past, illegal. Hope it's not too late before they figure this one out.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Big O wrote 4 years 14 weeks ago

Out of work, need to feed the family ?
Hum, feed the famliy for one day, or get a LOT of grocerys? What do you think ?
I eat what I keep , but COME ON $ 345.00 A LB !

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from rudyglove27 wrote 4 years 14 weeks ago

I practice catch and release but for the price of $345 a pound, it is definitely change my mind to sell what I catch!!!

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from shadbuster wrote 4 years 14 weeks ago

I got to say that if it was legal and the price was high, I would sell game fish knowing I was driving them into extinction. Its the mind set of "I better get my share before it goes bust"

-1 Good Comment? | | Report
from VT Outdoorsman wrote 4 years 13 weeks ago

The scenario is much more complicated than every fish getting that high price per pound. There is typically only one fish that sells for that much per year. It is the first fish caught in a special region of Japan, and it is considered good luck by the japanese to serve that fish at their sushi restaurant.

I fish recreationally for bluefin tuna, and will probably fish for them commercially in the near future. The bluefin tuna fishery is highly regulated in the US, the problem lies in Japan and other parts of the world that do not adhere to their quotas.

This is a extremely hypothetical situation, and is not what happens 99% of the time in this fishery. Some tuna fishermen are lucky to land just a few giants per year to sell; most tuna fishermen don't land any that can be sold.

0 Good Comment? | | Report

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from jamesti wrote 4 years 14 weeks ago

if we don't learn from history, this is what happens. when the bluefin are gone another fish will be targeted. it has to stop somewhere.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from Woodstock wrote 4 years 14 weeks ago

In your hypothetical situation, a strong conscience would probably give way to a tragic reality: everybody else would be catching and selling, so there would be no practical effect of you releasing a fish – it would only be caught and sold by the next guy.

It’s a classic example of the “tragedy of the commons”.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from Joe_Cermele wrote 4 years 14 weeks ago

First of all, selling a big bluefin is not as easy as catching one and running to the market. They have to be handled properly under certain procedures, you have to know that right people, have the permits. It's a pain, but I've been on docks where Japanese buyers were choppered in to take core samples of a fish.

In my heart I want to say I could never do it, and if I did catch one that big on my own boat, I honestly wouldn't know how to go about selling it. But I can't blame guys for selling them. Boats are expensive, fuel is expensive. A 500-pound BFT is like a winning lottery ticket. You don't just throw that away.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Koldkut wrote 4 years 14 weeks ago

There would be no more fish anywhere if that happened.....absolutly not!

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from buckhunter wrote 4 years 14 weeks ago

I would never catch and sell "no matter what" as your question states. If it was illegal I would not do it but if I legally caught an endangered fish and could legally sell it to market for big bucks... Well heck yea. I'll feel bad all the way to the bank. The payoff though would have to be in the thousands. I'm not interested in a couple hundred bucks.

If you guys don't hear from me for awhile I'm floating the ocean fishing for a 500 lb. tuna.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from MLH wrote 4 years 14 weeks ago

I think only bluefins hand caught in certain waters bring those prices. Figure one could probably farm raise brook trout - not so easy with tuna. Just that consumers would have to like trout with a subtle flavor of dry dog food (if you ever ate trout that are fed pellet food you know what I mean).

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from hengst wrote 4 years 14 weeks ago

Well thats a horrible question to ask. Unfortunately, being honest I have to say I would no longer catch and release. Money does change things more often than most of us will admit.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from LAKEM0NSTER85 wrote 4 years 14 weeks ago

Man, at $345/LB., they need to regulate boats to go out and use rods/limited amount of lines, to catch a limited amount of tuna. All they would need was a couple good fish, or one weighing 513 lbs. to pay for fuel, a good day's work, & a bonus for the boat leaving these mass harvests in the past, illegal. Hope it's not too late before they figure this one out.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Big O wrote 4 years 14 weeks ago

Out of work, need to feed the family ?
Hum, feed the famliy for one day, or get a LOT of grocerys? What do you think ?
I eat what I keep , but COME ON $ 345.00 A LB !

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from rudyglove27 wrote 4 years 14 weeks ago

I practice catch and release but for the price of $345 a pound, it is definitely change my mind to sell what I catch!!!

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from VT Outdoorsman wrote 4 years 13 weeks ago

The scenario is much more complicated than every fish getting that high price per pound. There is typically only one fish that sells for that much per year. It is the first fish caught in a special region of Japan, and it is considered good luck by the japanese to serve that fish at their sushi restaurant.

I fish recreationally for bluefin tuna, and will probably fish for them commercially in the near future. The bluefin tuna fishery is highly regulated in the US, the problem lies in Japan and other parts of the world that do not adhere to their quotas.

This is a extremely hypothetical situation, and is not what happens 99% of the time in this fishery. Some tuna fishermen are lucky to land just a few giants per year to sell; most tuna fishermen don't land any that can be sold.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from shadbuster wrote 4 years 14 weeks ago

I got to say that if it was legal and the price was high, I would sell game fish knowing I was driving them into extinction. Its the mind set of "I better get my share before it goes bust"

-1 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment

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