Footage filmed off the coast of Hyogo Prefecture in 1937 depicts what was then a common scene. A line of small boats drifts into view, forming a semicircle connecting a string of nets in a peaceful cove. Suddenly, the sea erupts in a tumult, as groups of men rush from the shore into the water, tackling thrashing albacore tuna and dragging them to the beach with long, hooked poles.
It’s a sight that is unimaginable today, in the age of large-scale and terrifyingly efficient industrial fishing. Although populations of Atlantic bluefin tuna have risen recently, according to an assessment by the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas, roughly 97 percent of Pacific bluefin tuna have vanished.