You heard it right! On Sunday, for World Tuna Day, I’ll be launching a brand new nature-inspired collection: The Bluefin Tuna Collection. Like all the collections, this one was designed specifically to help Bluefin Tuna Conservation.
It’s time to talk about the big fish in the room: Seaspiracy. I wanted this controversial Netflix documentary several weeks ago and have been talking about it ever since. Although not everyone agrees on the reliability of the film, we can all agree that the ocean, and bluefin tuna conservation needs our help.
Three different species of Bluefin Tuna
Tuna is a part of the Scombridae family, and there are 15 species of “true” tuna. These tunas make up the Thunnus genus which contains 8 different species according to the IUCN. Within this genus, Bluefin Tuna make up their own subspecies. Their varied diet helps them to grow on average to a whopping 300lbs!
There are three types of Bluefin Tuna: Atlantic Bluefin Tuna (Thunnus thynnus), Sothern Bluefin Tuna (Thunnus maccoyii) and Pacific Bluefin Tuna (Thunnus orientalis). Sushi diners and anglers sought after these huge fish, I found it quite terrifying when doing research for the design that the top search results on Google were for recipes and fishing trips.
Are Bluefin Tuna Endangered?
All three Bluefin Tuna populations are decreasing. The Pacific Bluefin is just 3% of it’s historic size, yet is listed as (vulnerable) by the IUCN. It gets worse. The Atlantic Bluefin is listed as (endangered). Whilst the Southern Bluefin is the most threatened of them all and is listed as (critically endangered). The next category down for them is extinct.
What will happen if Bluefin Tuna become extinct?
WWF warned over a decade ago about the potential consequences if the Bluefin Tuna population were to collapse. In their publication: On the Brink, quotes the ecological and economic impacts of Bluefin Tuna Extinction.
Bluefin extinction could trigger a trophic cascade – the consequences of an out-of-control food chain due to no top predator. Many fishermen will also lose their jobs, and ironically those fishing “sustainably” would lose out the most. We have already seen through Brexit how important fishing rights are to a country!
How does the new design support Bluefin Tuna Conservation?
Overfishing is the biggest problem that Bluefin Tuna face. Japan is by far the global consumer of Bluefin Tuna, taking 80% of the global catch. What is worse, is that much of the catch is made up of juvenile Bluefins, so they haven’t even had the time to reproduce.
To represent this battle for Bluefin Tuna conservation, I have only included four tuna fish in the design rather than a whole school. One of which is considerably smaller to represent a juvenile Bluefin. You can also see the faint outline of fishing nets.
Overfishing and Bluefin Tuna Conservation
To highlight how critical this problem is, overfishing has also influenced the number of items available. Like all Pigments by Liv collections and the animals that inspire them, the Bluefin Tuna Collection is finite.
In 2017, the two organisations in charge of managing the Bluefin Tuna population agreed to replenish tuna stocks to 20% of their historical size by 2034. From the day the collection is launched, these organisations will have 152 months to meet that target.
2. The problem with bycatch
Commercial fishing happens on such a huge scale that it is impossible to avoid by-catch. Sailfish, sea turtles and sharks are common by-catch of Bluefin Tuna. This is why, if you look closely at the design, you can see a sailfish swimming in the distance.
3. Plastic Pollution
You cannot release a design inspired by the ocean without talking about plastic pollution. If you type the coordinates featured in the Bluefin Tuna design (135°W – 155°W – 35°N – 42°N) into Google, what you’ll find, is the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.
This plastic soup floats atop the Pacific Ocean and is three times the size of France. That’s pretty scary. One thing Seaspiracy did highlight, was how much of that is made up of Ghost Nets. In 2018, 46% of the patch was made up of these disregarded fishing nets designed, and continue to kill marine life.
Supporting Bluefin Tuna Conservation
Sea Shepard and Marine Conservation
Sea Shepherd Conservation Society is an international non-profit with a worldwide presence and a mission to protect all marine animals. The mission is to partner with governments from around the world, to assist them with the detection and capture of criminal enterprises that are in operation to engage in Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated fishing operations.