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Extreme fishiness


It may be getting easier to be green, but it’s still pretty tough being blue, or a bluefin tuna to put a point on it. And if you’re keen to find out just how tricky it is to keep on swimming amid an ocean crowded with fishing nets, hook lines and boats all aiming to put you on a dinner plate, there’s a newly released online game called “Ocean Survivor” that’ll test your skills. It was released yesterday by the nonprofit Conserve Our Ocean Legacy. 

As a lone bluefin, it’s your mission to swim past, or even leap out of the water over, fields of traps and try to stay alive as long as possible. Just like a real fish.

But of course the purpose is to get people thinking about a serious matter – that the once abundant and thriving bluefin’s population has dropped by 99 percent since 1963 due to overfishing.  And that the bluefin’s dismal decline is widespread among other species. A study published in the journal Science two years ago, and summed up here by the BBC, found that:
“In 2003, 29% of open sea fisheries were in a state of collapse, defined as a decline to less than 10% of their original yield.”
Thankfully, studies such as these led to a federal law in the US to end overfishing here by 2011. But what’s a law without rules to back it up (not much). In the next few weeks, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) will be deliberating over catch limits and other rules under the law.

Conserve Our Ocean Legacy released the bluefin tuna game this week to encourage us all to remind the NMFS, via petition, that setting strong rules is the cornerstone of enforcing the law. You can go right to the petition here.

Or check out the game and see if you can’t beat my stunningly high score of 78133. Which is a polite way of saying the bluefin are lucky I’m not leading any of their schools of fish.