Audubon magazine quotes a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) employee saying that ‘There have been no reports of oil in the known spawning areas yet.’ First of all, that’s basically wrong. Second, as if, what, they think the nearby spawning area won’t be imminently drenched with dissolved toxic dispersant and oil?
They’re still wait-and-seeing? Or just hoping, because wishful thinking is all that’s left at this point?
And misleadingly, Audubon quotes Molly Lutcavage of UMass Amherst saying, “Many fish aren’t entering the Gulf of Mexico, which supports the possibility very strongly that there are other spawning areas.”
Lutcavage has spent much of her career pie-in-the-skying about unknown holy grail spawning areas. The fishing industry, with which she enjoys a cozy relationship, would love it if there were. That’s because they think it would help their denial that the bluefin is really as depleted as every other independent academic and government scientist and even the Atlantic tuna commission say it is. (The Atlantic tuna commission was created by fishermen all the way back in 1966 because they, the commercial fishermen, were already so alarmed at the plummeting rate of bluefin decline. Unfortunately, the commission is dysfunctional.) But with catches a fraction of what they were ten years ago, it doesn’t help to click your heels and speculate that there may be spawning areas somewhere over the rainbow; the fish are obviously very depleted.
The facts are:
1) The Gulf of Mexico is the only known bluefin tuna breeding area outside the Mediterranean, and the only known breeding area for the distinct West Atlantic population (and very likely their only breeding area, period);
2) The fact that some adults don’t enter the Gulf of Mexico in a given year supports the possibility very strongly that they don’t breed every year, not the wishful speculation that they are breeding in a place that no one’s found, despite the fact that the ocean is latticed with hooks and lines and the bluefin is hounded from continent to continent and in every corner in between;
3) If you overlay the actual tracks of adult bluefin tuna tagged by Stanford scientists working out of Nova Scotia and the actual oil eruption, you can see for yourself there is actually plenty of surface oil around the areas where spawning fish go. That doesn’t include all the dissolved oil and toxic dispersant no one can “report” because the dispersant has done its public-relations job of making it invisible (albeit more toxic to things like fish, fish eggs and fish larvae, and plankton). Invisible and more toxic, while polluting a vastly larger area.
Let’s stop fantasizing that the oil eruption isn’t so bad. It hasn’t even stopped getting started, because the oil’s still gushing.