Skip to main content
A Sea Change cover photo

Built like torpedoes, with a sleek and streamlined shape, coupled with extensive musculature and impressive physiological adaptations, tuna are among the fastest, strongest, most impressive fish in our oceans.

But their versatility and wide distribution, and their current ubiquity as a global staple food, can lead to misconceptions about their vulnerability. 

A success story 20 years in the making

The trajectory of the tuna serves as a cautionary preview of the biodiversity crisis, but may have even more salience today as a harbinger of sustainability and redemption.

This is a story of cooperation and diligence, a wide array of expertise, a pool of talent and skills as wide-ranging and vast as the 40 million square kilometres of ocean area whose fisheries the Pacific Island nations have been tasked to protect.

It’s a story of 14 Pacific Islands nations in partnership with a number of regional and global partners working together to bring their respective knowledge to bear.

It’s about fighting ocean thieves, securing and protecting an economic lifeline, and successfully establishing the only major ocean area where all four main tuna stocks are harvested at sustainable levels.

A fish not fit for your cat

For most of the 19th century, tuna was colloquially referred to in Japan as ‘neko-matagi’, or ‘what a cat steps over’ (in other words, a fish so unappetizing that even cats would turn up their noses).

It was deprecated as a global food commodity and treated as virtually worthless bycatch. 

For Pacific Island nations, tuna and other fish have long been a staple part of local diets, and a ‘cultural joy in fishing’ has been observed across Pacific cultures.

 

Read the full visual narration on Exposure