I like to ask questions. Because sooner or later, they are answered.
Like, where are my keys? (in your pocket) What time is it? (time to get a watch) How much?(How much do you have?)…. And where does all our precious tuna go?
I’ve wondered in my mind, out loud and even asked several people I know in the fisheries sector of our great country about the tuna. I’ve always received the standard answer: Japan, China, US… But I wanted to know where do they really go? Eventually they all get eaten or turn to crap or both. But what type of establishments are receiving and sharing our blue gold? Finally! like all my other questions, this burning question was finally answered. But before I share that, I just wanted to clarify this fact with a quote from Her Excellency Hilda Heine, the President of the Republic of the Marshall Islands:
“Fisheries are our economic future. Yet even though the Pacific Island region controls over half of the world’s tuna stock, we benefit from only a tiny fraction of the overall economic activity,” she said.
“Overall, $660 million of illegal fishing occurs every year in our waters – a quarter of our fishery,” the president said.
That’s a big number! $660 million! A quarter of our fishery she said!
A recent Associated Press investigation revealed that certain local tuna were not as local as they thought in the US. The article stated the following:
An Associated Press investigation traced the supply chain of national distributor Sea To Table to other parts of the world, where fishermen described working under slave-like conditions with little regard for marine life……..
Preliminary DNA tests suggested the fish likely came from the Indian Ocean or the Western Central Pacific. There are limitations with the data because using genetic markers to determine the origins of species is still an emerging science, but experts say the promising new research will eventually be used to help fight illegal activity in the industry.
Blah, blah, blah. All I read is illegal fishing. The words of President Heine echoing…. $660 million every year!…. a quarter of our fishery! This is Tuna crap! Another article from the Chicago Tribune titled ‘Sustainably caught’ seafood? Nationwide distributor’s murky supply chain exposed further revealed some of the methods and companies associated with the shipment of tuna and other fish:
In the early hours, often between 2 a.m. and 4 a.m., boxes of fish bearing foreign shipping labels from all over the world were arranged into piles with “Gosman” scribbled across them in black marker. They were later hoisted onto a waiting truck with the same name.
After a three-hour drive east, the AP watched the loads arrive at the company’s loading dock in Montauk, just as the sun was rising on the tip of Long Island.
The tuna, swordfish and other species were then ferried inside Gosman’s warehouse. They came from Blue Ocean in Brazil, Vietnam’s Hong Ngoc Seafood Co., and Land, Ice and Fish in Trinidad and Tobago. Occasionally, boxes showed up from Luen Thai Fishing Venture and Marshall Islands Fishing Venture, part of a Hong Kong-based conglomerate that’s a major supplier of sushi-grade tuna. Despite recent conservation partnerships, Luen Thai has a checkered past, including shark finning and a bribery scandal that resulted in the jailing of a former Cook Islands marine resources minister in 2016.
Any of those companies sound familiar?
Now, I know where our fish have gone, how they got there and who sent them there… for the most part. I still have questions though. Maybe even more than before.
Let’s leave it for a later date and possibly a Podcast episode.