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article imageQuality and Quantity of Gulf of Maine Tuna on Decline

By Bob Ewing     Aug 24, 2007 in Environment
A recent study by a research team at the University of New Hampshire was just released and they conclude: Sorry Charlie, you are just not fat enough. The quality of bluefin tuna caught in the Gulf of Maine is in a serious decline.
Durham, N.H. – Gulf of Maine bluefin tuna, a favourite food for sushi lovers where it is known as tekkamaki, is on the decline, in quantity, and in quality. A recent study by a team of researchers from the University of New Hampshire (UNH) has reported that, shifts in reproductive or migratory patterns, or the impact of fishing may be the cause of this decline.
The team came to their conclusions after studying the detailed logbooks that were kept by from a commercial tuna grader at the Yankee Fisherman’s Co-op.
Walter Golet, a Ph.D. candidate in UNH’s Large Pelagics Research Lab, who was one of the team that looked at the logbooks of veteran tuna grader Robert Campbell, says “In a drawer, he had two or three notebooks with every fish he graded in the last 14 years, from 1991 – 2004.”
The team focused on the fat content because as Golet says, “Fat content is in high demand for the market, because that’s what makes the meat taste good,”
In tuna, fat content means more than good taste, it also indicates the overall health of the bluefin. The bluefin swims great distances and have high metabolism and high energy needs.
An important consequence of the failure to put on fat, besides flavour, is the possible impact that this can have on reproduction. Golet says “Reduced energy stores can often force a fish to skip spawning in a particular year." He adds "Bluefin will eat just about anything – sponges, seahorses, and dogfish – but according to recent studies, up to 60 percent of their prey is comprised of Atlantic herring."
Herring is bluefin health food and the team is also considering the possibility that the quality of the herring is on the decline because there is no shortage of this food source.
The team does not expect to find a single source behind this lessening of the quality of the bluefin and feel that there are several factors responsible.
More about Bluefin tuna, Gulf maine, Quality
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