National Fisherman

Mixed Catch 

jerryJerry Fraser is NF's publisher and former editor.



The tuna auction at Tokyo's historic Tsukiji seafood market has become a top tourist attraction for foreigners, according to an Associated Press story that appeared in the Asbury Park (N.J.) Press. In fact, it's become so popular, auction officials actually had to suspend tours of the pre-dawn tuna auctions for a few weeks. It seems the tourists were getting a little unruly — apparently to the point where people were licking the tuna.

As syndicated humor columnist Dave Barry would say, I am not making this up.

Mind you, I enjoy tuna as much as the next guy (unless it is in a noodle casserole). Grilled tuna steaks? Yum. If I'm at a sushi bar, I'm all over the tuna sushi roll. And I consider a nice tuna sandwich and a bottle of orange soda one of life's great simple pleasures.

Still, I have not been so moved by tuna that I have felt compelled to lick it. Not even when I'm on vacation.

Alas, the incident is only mentioned in passing, so I cannot gauge the depth of this particular problem. But it raises many questions, such as:

• Was the licking an isolated incident or were there repeated offenses? If you are caught licking a tuna, is jail time involved? Can tourists be deported because of it?

• Are there support groups for recovering tuna lickers?

• The auction displays hundreds of frozen tuna; has anyone attempting to lick one found to their dismay that their tongue has frozen to the unfortunate tuna?

The good news is that the auction is again open to tourists. All auction officials ask is that the tourists keep a civil tongue in their heads.

Inside the Industry

NMFS recently released a draft action plan for fish discard and release mortality science, creating a list of actions that they hope can better inform fisheries.

We know that fishermen have to deal with bycatch by discarding or releasing unwanted catch overboard, but there is a data gap regarding how those fish survive.


A new study has identified a set of features common to all ocean ecosystems that provide a visual diagnosis of the health of the underwater environment coastal communities rely on.

Together, the features detail cumulative effects of threats -- such as overfishing, pollution, and invasive species,  allowing responders to act faster to increase ocean resiliency and sustainability.

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