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?