Tuna Wars pp 247-257 | Cite as

Twenty-first Century Tuna Wars

  • Steven Adolf


From the start of the second millennium BCE, finding tuna was always a journey without borders. After the Phoenicians introduced the tuna industry from the eastern Mediterranean, it had gone on to conquer Western civilisation. From the twentieth century on, the tuna value chain had spread out globally. If you wanted to know more about the tuna on your plate at the start of the third millennium you had to travel to the Pacific and Asia. Meet Huynh Phi Minh [44, 203]. This 50 year old fisherman from the Phuoc Dong commune in the Vietnamese Nha Trang City witnessed something in the spring of 2017 which he will remember for the rest of his life. Huynh Phi Minh was sailing the South China Seas when the crew of his small vessel hooked a bluefin tuna that was so big and strong that his battle with the animal would qualify for a bout in Wicked Tuna. It took eight hours before they were able to hoist the creature on board. An epic fight on the edge of the Western Pacific, in the middle of the territorial waters of the Paracel Islands. The Pacific bluefin tuna weighed exactly 307 kg. This was worthy of mention for several reasons. Never before had a Vietnamese fisherman caught such a big tuna. Nominated by the Vietnam Association of Tuna, Huynh Phi Minh received an official certificate that stated this remarkable record. Not only that, it was a Pacific bluefin, the species that was overfished so heavily that it was extremely hard to catch. Tuna scientists even believed this fish was on the verge of being wiped out in the Pacific Ocean. But for the moment that wasn’t Huynh Phi Minh’s greatest concern. He calculated that he was well over 55 million Vietnamese Dong (2200 euros) richer with his haul on board. That was a lot of money in Vietnam; the fisherman could be happy. Although it was not very likely that the Japanese trader, who bought the fish as soon as it was landed in the port of Nha Trang, did pay the highest price for this catch. An eight-hour battle is likely to have produced a quantity of stress hormones that would have greatly impaired the quality of the tuna’s flesh. Not a fish for the premium sushi and sashimi on the Tokyo market maybe, but a good catch for a Vietnamese fisherman.


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Steven Adolf
    • 1
  1. 1.AmsterdamThe Netherlands

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