A few weeks ago, we got all kinds of hungry when we posted about the new sustainable sushi restaurant, Tataki, in San Francisco. But for those of you who can't make it out to San Fran, there's now a set of guidebooks just released by the Blue Ocean Institute, the Monterey Bay Aquarium, and the Environmental Defense Fund that will give you a lesson on which fish should, and shouldn't, make it into your maki roll. Each org has their own version of the guide (the Environmental Defense Fund's is slightly more focused on consumer health), but they decided to band together and present a united front to make the public more aware about the role that sushi plays in the sustainable seafood movement.
"There's a lot of awareness about seafood – but not about sushi," says Ken Peterson, the Communications Director at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. "Even though people know they’re eating raw fish," they often don't relate to it the way they would to, say, dolphin-safe tuna, he says, and speculates that's perhaps because many dishes are identified in Japanese. So these bilingual guides will instruct users to consider how the fish are farmed and caught, and whether they're being threatened by overfishing. According to the guide, bluefish is on the no-go list, as the species population has dropped 90 percent in the past 30 years because of overfishing. Also on the no list: monkfish ("ankoh"), red snapper ("tai") and freshwater eel ("unagi"). Instead, try U.S.-farmed abalone ("awabi"), albacore tuna from the U.S. and Canada ("maguro") and farmed arctic char ("iwana"), which are all are more sustainable choices.
These guides will be available as wallet-sized cards and are free to download, but I think that the digital versions, available on PDAs, are great for travelers. The Monterey Bay Aquarium's can be accessed by going to mobile.seafoodwatch.org, while the Environmental Defense Fund's Seafood Selector can be accessed through m.edf.org/seafood. And the Blue Ocean Institute just launched the FishPhone program this month, allowing patrons to text the name of the fish and get a text back with its environmental assessment.
As part of the launch, the Monterey Bay Aquarium is also launching a "virtual sushi party" on Facebook today, which encourages participants to go out into their communities, eat sushi, and report back with status updates on the fish they found. We'll be happy to oblige them.
Image by Meomi for the Monterey Bay Aquarium