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The Green Life: Fish is Delicious, But What's the Catch?

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November 24, 2009

Fish is Delicious, But What's the Catch?

Sushi.roll Isn't it frustrating when your best efforts to do the right thing are thwarted?

That's what may be happening to customers at some sushi restaurants that are serving endangered bluefin tuna without telling their clientele. Researchers at the Sackler Institute for Comparative Genomics tested the fish at 31 sushi restaurants in New York and Denver; they found that where bluefin tuna was served, it was correctly labeled “bluefin” only 36% of the time. Several times it was mislabeled as another tuna species, or just identified as "tuna." 

It's a tough time to be a pescetarian. According to a Monterey Bay Aquarium report, overfishing is pervasive. Most (63%) of stocks are in need of recovery. Destructive fishing practices like trawling harm the ocean floor. This BBC article from 2006 predicts that if current fishing practices continue, wild fish will be a thing of the past by 2050. Yikes!

So what's a ceviche-loving, salmon-craving person to do? The Monterey Bay Aquarium publishes a small but effective guide to sustainable seafood that you can download, print out, and carry around with you when you go to restaurants. There's also a nifty guide to sustainable sushi. While it's true these guides won't be 100% effective if fish aren't always labeled correctly, we still find them helpful.

When you're shopping, look for the Marine Stewardship Council logo on packaging. Finally, at your neighborhood sushi bar or seafood shack, ask them where they get their fish and if it had been sustainably harvested or raised. If restuarants know that their customers demand sustainable seafood, they'll be more likely to carry it.

-- Année Tousseau

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