Environmentalists are demanding that one of the most prized fishes on the planet be listed as an endangered species.

Last week, about a dozen environmental groups — including Greenpeace, the Center for Biological Diversity, Defenders of Wildlife and Earthjustice — formally petitioned the U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service to consider listing the Pacific bluefin tuna as endangered under the Endangered Species Act. That status mandates the highest levels of protection from harm.

Other endangered species include the California condor and the Florida panther. Some scientists and activists feel the chances of getting the fish listed are slim. However, many also feel the action is long overdue.

The Pacific bluefin tuna, a species distinct from the overfished Atlantic bluefin, has been depleted to less than 3 percent of its estimated unfished levels, according to numerous researchers.

This, scientists and environmentalists argue, is an ecological emergency.

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