Sustainable Sushi

Sushi, but was it farmed or fished sustainably?

Living 250 miles inland means ocean fish aren’t local by most people’s definition. Staying true to my ecological ethics means sushi is a rare treat for me. (It’s also better for my budget.) But on those occasions when I do eat sushi, I need to know which fish species are sustainable sushi and which are on the definitely-do-not-eat list.

I’ve got my card, now what?

I’ve got my sushi card from the Monterey Bay Aquarium site and it helps to give me an idea of what to order. But looking over it, I see that Izumidai (tilapia) is on both the “Best Choices” list and the “Avoid” list. The difference between the two lists is how the tilapia are raised – US farmed is okay and Asian farmed is not. Shiro Maguro (albacore tuna) is on all three lists, the difference being how and where it’s caught. On the menu at the local sushi restaurants, provenance and catch method are not listed. In fact, at my favorite sushi restaurant, “tuna” is not differentiated between bluefin, yellowfin, skipjack, or any other variety. It’s just tuna.

Having the recommendations of the Monterey Bay Aquarium gets me closer to knowing what to buy, but I still have to do some more homework. I have to ask the sushi chef or restaurant owner where the fish came from and how they were raised or caught. At this point, I sympathize with people who don’t want to bother with this. I don’t know if the sushi chef or owner will be offended by my questions. I don’t know if they will think I’m wasting their time. After all, fish is food and food is good, right?

So, to make it easier for those who come after me, I’m going to submit my findings to Fish2fork. Right now, there’s only one restaurant listed in my area and it’s not a sushi place. If everyone submitted their favorite sustainable sushi places, dining out would get a lot easier.

Further Reading:

Monterey Bay Aquarium has a restaurant program. Most of the participants are in California, although there are some in other states.

The Vancouver Aquarium’s restaurant program lists restaurants across Canada.

Check out Stuart Stein’s primer on sustainable aquaculture.

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1 thought on “Sustainable Sushi”

  1. This is something I’ve wondered many times before. I live in Portland, Oregon so fairly close to the ocean. I’m reluctant to order seafood when I travel somewhere far from the sea. It doesn’t seem safe to me…

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