By Sandy K. Johnson

Bluefin tuna, one of the most coveted fish in the world, was depleted by almost 97 percent in its native Pacific Ocean when a coalition of nations set aside differences to put it on a path to sustainability.

Bluefin are highly-prized, especially in Japan, where a single tuna can sell for more than $100,000.

“They basically all come from Japan,” said Margaret Spring, vice president of conservation at the Monterey Bay Aquarium and also the aquarium’s science and chief conservation officer. The aquarium and Stanford University collaborate on the Tuna Research and Conservation Center, which studies tuna stocks. They know a lot about bluefin and their migratory routes from Japan to other oceans.

In 2017, after a years-long effort, two fishing bodies – the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission and the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission – agreed to a plan to rebuild tuna stocks to 20 percent of historic levels by 2034. More than 200 chefs worldwide urged the action.

The agreement is “a test case for whether governments can stick together to a science-based plan,” Spring said. “This law has influenced the world.”

The Monterey Bay Aquarium is also the source of Seafood Watch, a consumer’s guide to finding and buying sustainable fish that is available as an app or a downloadable PDF.