There are just 40,000 adult Pacific bluefin tuna remaining in the wild today -- four percent of the fish's historic average. Because of this sorry statistic, the fisheries division of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is mulling a ban on both recreational and commercial fishing of the species in an effort to save it.
Highly sought after as an expensive ingredient sold in many if not most sushi restaurants, 90 percent of Pacific bluefin tuna caught are juveniles who haven't had the chance to breed before they die. The catch is fueled by insanely high demand -- prices have reached $1.76 million for a single fish of late.
The species is a perfect example of a phenomenon the renowned fisheries scientist Daniel Pauly calls the ocean's shifting baseline. Part of the theory shows how the individuals of a species become smaller as the group gets overfished. Now, the tuna we are catching are smaller than they were decades ago, but they are still valuable to fishers because our baselines -- our standard of the value of the fish -- is adjusted. As Pauly said in his TED talk on the topic, "We adjust our baseline to the new level, and we don't recall what was there."