Great news for sushi lovers. Three leading ocean conservation organizations -- the Seafood Watch program here at Monterey Bay Aquarium, as well as Blue Ocean Institute and Environmental Defense Fund -- will release consumer guides for choosing sustainable sushi on October 22.
While the consumer guides –- in print, online and mobile device versions -– differ in appearance, all are based on similar data, and offer one consistent message: Our sushi choices have an impact on the future of the ocean.
"The reality is quite simple," says Sheila Bowman, outreach manager for Seafood Watch. "If you care about the future of the oceans, you'll avoid red-listed sushi."
For sushi aficionados, that means both pleasant surprises, and some disappointments. The "red" list includes items like bluefin tuna (hon maguro/kuro maguro) and freshwater eel (unagi), along with farmed salmon (sake). These species are either overfished, farmed with aquaculture methods that pollute the ocean, or caught using methods that destroy ocean habitats or kill large amounts of other sea life.
Green-listed "Best Choices" include wild-caught Alaska salmon (sake), farmed scallops (hotate) and Pacific halibut (hirame), in part because they come from abundant, well-managed fisheries or -– in the case of scallops -– are raised using sustainable aquaculture methods.
Pocket guides will be available on our Seafood Watch website on October 22 -- a day when we hope you'll take part in a Sustainable Sushi Party at home or your local sushi restaurant. The good news is that every sushi restaurant offers some sustainable items.
(If you live in the San Francisco Bay Area, check out Tataki, currently the only 100% sustainable sushi restaurant we've found in North America. Casson Trenor, one of the folks behind Tataki, will publish a book about sustainable sushi in January 2009.)
In addition to our new Sushi Pocket Guide, we'll have other fun items for sustainable sushi advocates. I'll have more details in the next two weeks.