You can’t read a newspaper these days without learning about new repercussions from the global economic downturn. USA Today reported yesterday that college students are struggling because cost of food and rent is high. One of the consequences is that students are cutting back on meals. Zack Hall, a student at University of Texas says “We eat so much tuna, it’s not even funny.”
Uh-oh. Danger, Will Robinson. Over consumption of canned tuna can lead to “fish fog“. Consider this scenario- economy goes down, tuna consumption goes up, mercury levels rise, memory loss ensues, and grades drop. It’s a downward spiral. Kind of like tuna flying off the shelves in the face of a hurricane. Canned tuna may not be the healthiest choice, especially if you’re pregnant.
Dig a little deeper into the global economics of tuna consumption and you’ll find yourself reading a China News story about the city of General Santos, the Tuna Capitol of the Philippines.
Daily in this coastal city, around 280 tons of giant yellow-fin tunas are prepared and processed for distribution all over the world. In less than 24 hours after being unloaded by fishermen from their vessels docked in this city’s world-class fish port, the fresh tuna will turn into pink sushi in finest foreign bistros thousands of kilometers away.
However, tuna landings are down 22% from last year, and scientists from Manila’s Fisheries Research Development Institute already claim that global warming is to blame. Tuna fish are moving into cooler waters, they say, and fishermen are traveling further offshore to catch fish. Fishermen are spending about 3,850 to 9,600 U.S. dollars per trip in oil expenses.
Meanwhile, the ongoing financial crisis is resulting in weaker demand from traditional tuna markets in the Unites States and European countries. The solution for Philippines fisheries, it seems, is captive rearing of tuna, and increased trade with China. With a population of 1.3 billion, China is likely to become a great market for the Philippines’ tuna industry, says Marfin Tan, a tuna company owner. And you expected good news?
So the question of whether tuna consumption is going up or going down may depend on the country, type and quality of tuna that we’re talking about. Either way, climate change, oil prices, and consumer spending choices seem to be tightly bound around the future of tuna.