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Dining on sustainable sushi

Sushi. Those tasty little morsels of fish-on-rice are a big part of West Coast living. But can it last?

Sushi. Those tasty little morsels of fish-on-rice are a big part of West Coast living. But can it last? While we munch our motoyaki, experts tell us global fisheries are collapsing. If we keep fishing down the food web, the tuna tataki on that menu could be replaced with jellyfish juice within our lifetimes.

Collapsing fisheries mean collapsing livelihoods for millions of the world’s poorest. So, what to do? Swear-off spicy tuna roll and stay home instead? Not necessary. The trick is knowing what’s caught where, and how.

For example, pole-caught B.C. albacore tuna? Sustainable! Sadly, most other tuna isn’t. Salmon? Wild trumps farmed. Scallops? Other way around.

For a sustainable sushi guide, google SeaChoice, a Canadian non-profit. They even have an iPhone app. Armed with their expert advice, you’re ready to hit the sushi bar.

Or are you?

A problem remains: most sushi joints don’t advertise how their merchandise was caught. What’s worse, often the chefs themselves don’t know! And seafood wholesalers can be strangely secretive.

We clearly need a sea change in sushi culture. Where to start? With a dare: The next time you go out for Japanese, ask your server where your order-of-choice comes from and how it was caught.

Chances are they’ll ask the chef. If the final answer’s murky, switch your order to something safer. Say why. Make this a habit and our local chefs will start to get the message: Sustainable seafood means sustainable business.

What’s in, or out
• Not all tuna is created equal. Pole-caught Pacific albacore is OK. Eating endangered bluefin is about as ethical as eating Giant Panda meat.

• Wild-caught east coast shrimp are sustainable. Shrimp farms in south and southeast Asia are not.

 
 
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