Thinking globally to save riches of the sea

Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, November 29, 2009

Given the price a single bluefin tuna can fetch — one sold for a record $173,600 a few years ago at Tokyo’s Tsukiji market — it’s not surprising that the rich, buttery fish is a prized catch. Or that it has prompted a feeding frenzy among international traders.

The money at stake for such things as fish for sushi, the red coral fashioned into jewelry for Italian stores and the shark-fin soup served at Chinese banquets has turned the oceans into a wholesale market — and prompted new concerns about conserving their resources.

A group of nations, including the United States, recently announced a move to add a record number of commercial marine species to the international endangered list, putting them fin by tusk with such iconic land species as rhinos and elephants.

The move reflects both a new global emphasis on ocean conservation and a major failure by the world’s fishery managers, who have been charged with overseeing how we use the ocean. But with significant financial interests at stake, these new efforts are encountering resistance.

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