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CO Sushi Wraps, Rolls without Atlantic Bluefin?

March 18, 2010

DENVER - Catch one fish and win $100,000. That's the prize right now for fisherman hauling in Atlantic bluefin tuna - an enormous fish sold at a premium price for use in sushi bars and restaurants. The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species is meeting this week, and is considering a ban on international trade of bluefin. Scientists say it has been overfished to the point that only 15 percent of the bluefin population remains.

Sue Lieberman, director of international policy at Pew Environment Group, who is attending the meeting this week in Qatar, will argue on behalf of a ban to allow the stocks recover.

"The Atlantic bluefin tuna is a species that has declined so much that, on average, it's 85 percent gone. Less than 15 percent remains of what was once there.

If the ban is approved, it doesn't mean bluefin will disappear entirely from sushi menus, although some restaurants in the Rockies have already opted to find alternatives. Lieberman says, for now, it's okay for local fans to keep ordering it.

"That doesn't mean that if you've eaten sushi, you're bad. Most of the sushi's going to Japan. The big problem is overfishing and illegal fishing, particularly in the Mediterranean."

Several species of shark are also being considered for an international trade ban. Scientists say they've been overfished to make another delicacy; shark fin soup.

Eric Mack, Public News Service - CO