In this blog article, we’ll be following the journey of wild bluefin tuna from Cape Cod waters to Japanese dinner tables – outlining the process of how they are caught, sold and shipped overseas. We’ll also explore why Japanese consumers have such a deep connection with bluefin tuna. So dive in and learn the fascinating story behind these fish!
Introduction to Wild Bluefin Tuna
Wild bluefin tuna are among the largest, fastest and most commercially valuable fish in the world. Valued for their fatty flesh, which is used for sushi and other delicacies, wild bluefin tuna are a valued prize for the finest Sushi Restaurants in the World.
In an effort to protect these fish, various organizations have put in place catch limits and quota systems. So for a charter Captain, he is only able to commercially sell fish that are greater than 73 inches in size. He must hold special permits and licenses to be able to sell these prized fish. Depending on where they fish from, they may only be able to fish for them on select days.
Fishing for Wild Bluefin Tuna off of the Eastern Coast of the United States
Wild bluefin tuna are some of the most sought-after fish in the world. They can sell for upwards of $20,000 in Japan. But remarkably, very little of that is paid to the fisherman. The vast majority of wild bluefin tuna that are caught are done so off of the Eastern coast of the United States. The waters around Cape Cod are some of the best for these fish from June through November each year.
The process of catching wild bluefin tuna is both an art and a science. Once the school has been located, fishermen will use a variety of techniques to catch the fish. The most common methods are live lining bait fish, trolling various spreader bars to imitate bait fish, jigging or casting artificial lures.
Once the fish have been caught, they must be cooled down and put on ice to bring the best possible price at market. These fish are under a lot of stress during the fight and create a lot of heat. Properly cooling them is a must!
Processing and Shipping of the Catch from the US to Japan
The catch of these wild bluefin tuna are shipped from the US to Japan within 24 hours of being caught. The boats Captain brings the fish to a buyer at the dock where it is weighted and then taken to market. Most bluefin are sold domestically but the best of the best are shipped overseas. The fish are carefully packed in ice and stored in a temperature-controlled environment to preserve their quality.
Upon arrival in Japan, the fish are auctioned off to the highest bidder and then sent to restaurants and markets around the country.
From Cape Cod to the Japanese dinner table, wild bluefin tuna take a remarkable journey on their way to becoming sushi. Research has demonstrated that by tracking individual fish with RFID tags we can increase our understanding of how these species migrate around the ocean and improve fisheries management worldwide. In order to keep wild bluefin tuna populations healthy into the future, continued conservation efforts must be made.