Who Cares About A Bunch Of Dead Pandas?

March 2nd, 2011 | 7 comments | Posted by Diana

I recently had sushi in Little Tokyo with a longtime friend frenemy person I know, who was in LA from NY for one night. After a few tantalizing rounds of chef’s choice, we started to gaze at the specials. Aloud, pained, I lamented the listing for toro sashimi–which I love almost as much as football–on the board, having not ordered the fatty belly of the endangered bluefin for almost two years. We quickly, maybe even passionately chatted about the awful projections that the world stands to be bluefin-free by the next U.S. presidential election.

She sighed. And then brightly ordered the toro.

I tried not to judge. I tried not to preach. It’s not my duty. I merely looked at her quizzically.

“Jesus, Diana, it’s not like I invented toro or anything,” she huffed. And I actually haven’t heard from her since that night.

But that moment has stuck with me. I find myself wondering why it’s so easy to dismiss the peril of the bluefin, to literally mouth the words “endangered” while allowing that endangered flesh to cross one’s lips (with some tart rice and a little bit of salt). I’m not angry at my friend–she’s certainly not alone. I just wonder.

Is it because bluefin are *just* fish? They’re cold, slick, emotionless–not cute, cuddly, loving, furry, and adorable. And although it’s a bummer to most when species are endangered and all… at the end of the day, we can’t really be expected to modify our behavior, nor bothered to deny our tastebuds and cravings, for a bunch of cold, dead fish. They’re just fish, right? Like the saying goes, there are plenty of fish in the sea. At least for the next fifty years.

It’s not like bluefin are pandas or anything. Then–THEN we’d have all the right conservation slogans, tees, and–er, sexy costumes. Pandas are endangered CUTE animals that we can all (save for a few dissenters) get behind. We dare not imagine a bunch of dead pandas on wooden pallets. It would hurt t0o much.

But in fact, that’s exactly what the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society wants you to do. They just launched this new campaign: “When you see tuna, think Panda.”

And perhaps you respond to these images the way I do:


That’s probably how we should feel about endangered tuna, too.

Look, I don’t want to see these ads any more than you do. But if such comparisons are what it takes for us to really understand that this “endangered bluefin” shit is for real–that by ordering those red tuna rolls we are actively begging for a near-extinct species to be lined up dead on wooden pallets just to satisfy our sushi palates–then so be it.

[via Buzzfeed]
[Sea Shepherd Conservation Society: Operation Blue Rage]

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7 Responses to “Who Cares About A Bunch Of Dead Pandas?”

  1. keithmoh says:

    Wow, what a great photoshop job for those two ads, really puts it in perspective. Love the column Diana.

    P.S. Actually tuna is one of two kinds of fish that are warm blooded. It’s what helps them swim so long and fast in the ocean.

  2. erikakharada says:

    It’s sad to me that people are so ignorant that they would be for preserving only cute, cuddly animals (I don’t really find pandas all that cute after hearing about one mauling a zoo-goer to death…) — bluefin tuna are one of the apex predators of the sea, and the oceans would be even more unstable if they become extinct due to reckless over-fishing.

    A lot of fellow Japanese folks refuse to give up the tradition of eating tuna because it’s “culture”, but I don’t understand why they would not want to ensure that the tuna will be around for longer so they can share that tradition with their children and grandchildren.

  3. Diana says:

    @keithmoh thank you for the info! the post has been corrected. xo

  4. Snowghost says:

    When I read this the first song that came to mind was Nirvana – Something in the Way.

    Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rg-yYi8saZY
    Lyrics: http://www.sing365.com/music/lyric.nsf/something-in-the-way-lyrics-nirvana/ee1224dd4481373d4825682d000c6ffa

  5. [...] you do like most people, click here to read about someone who is just as concerned about the overfishing of bluefin [...]

  6. TMK says:

    I dunno, I still find the pictures in articles like this one shocking: http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2006/08/11/1154803102432.html

    But maybe that’s just me. And how can anyone look into the soulful eye of a beautiful fish like this http://www.flickr.com/photos/katemonkey/4574196026/in/set-1507947/ and not feel something? (OK, he’s my fish so I’m biased).

    …What. What? Anthropomorphise, moi?

  7. [...] not forget, people don’t really care about fish and sea creatures that aren’t dolphins when they’re not so cuddly and [...]

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