November 27, 2008

Just Say Maybe: Tuna. [Sustainable vs. overharvested, mercury]

Switch to salmon, guys.

“80% of blue fin tuna is consumed by one country. You know who you are, stop eating the ocean clean.”

“A lot of the restaurants in Western Nations reimport it from Japan. It sounds strange, but tuna does go from New England to Japan and then back to New York. It’s just the way the market is set up. The fisherman sell to the Japanese first.”

This is during my lifetime: “90% of the world’s fisheries are overexploited, and experts estimate that we only have 30-40 years of fishing left before the oceans are empty.”

End of the Line:

If you eat tuna, you’re the last link in the “greed“-based supply-demand chain that is rapidly exhausting the tuna stock, leading scientists to believe that tuna will never recover (they’ll be as inbred as the Hapsburgs). So if you love to eat tuna, don’t eat tuna. …Until our governments agree to manage catches at sustainable levels. ‘Cause otherwise, you’re gonna be left with a population so depopulated it’ll be unable to repopulate itself. Say that sentence three times fast.  And I’m not even getting into the mercury issue, mommas-to-be.

So what kinds of tuna are eco-okay to munch on? Considering they’ve all been fished, frozen, shipped, reshipped and mailed the length of the earth, I say less is more—fishing in a local stream might be the greenest solution next to vegetarianism. But if my half-baked opinion ain’t enough for you, the experts (below, an excerpt) have better-informed…er…information.

And, as always, a great way to effect change is simply to ask your waiter, waitress, or manager at your favorite local sushi den. I’ve been doing so for a few years at Hapa. Two years back, they didn’t know what I meant. “Sustainable?,” they’d say. “You mean, wild? I’ll check with the manager.”

No, I didn’t mean wild salmon or whatnot—so-called wild are as overfished as anyfishbody else.

Now, only 30 dinners later, Hapa’s looking to add a sustainably-harvested icon (much like chili peppers for ‘spicey’) to those items on their menus that hail from strong fish populations.

I can’t wait.

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