Sustainable Seafood

by A.A.

Via Ezra’s other blog, Brad Plumer draws our attention to the decline and potential death of bluefin tuna as a species on account of overfishing.  While I have slightly more faith than Ezra that concerted pushback by consumers can impact – at least marginally, at first – what kinds of meat, fish, and dairy suppliers bring to market, I will concede that it’s a painfully slow feedback loop at times.  Still, there are bright signs of progress: the “sustainable seafood” labeling system is being introduced at fish counters in a growing number of grocery stores nationwide – Greenpeace ranks some of the bigger players here. And restaurants may be following suit, albeit cautiously. Bamboo Sushi, which opened last year here in Portland, claims to be the first “certified, sustainable sushi restaurant in the world.”

Their “About” page explains what that means, from serving only fish from populations that are “plentiful and in good health,” as well as the usual garden-variety pledges to use power from renewable energy sources and to stock paper products made from recycled materials.  And take a look at the visual cues on their dinner menu – the giant blue-circled checkmark next to items from fisheries that have been certified by the Marine Stewardship Council is an easy way for diners (whether out of a genuine desire to eat sustainable food, or just to impress a date) to pick out the fish that meets the highest bar of sustainability. On an unrelated note, I love their idea of serving “fish flights” to compare different varieties of the same fish type.

It’s been getting good reviews out here so far, along with Mashiko in Seattle, whose sushi chef “saw the light,” stopped serving bluefin tuna, and will soon relaunch with a sustainable menu. I wouldn’t be surprised to more such places popping up, if for no other reason than as an effective marketing ploy. If celebrities are boycotting Nobu, after all, a sea change may be on its way.


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