Bluefin blues

Last night I ordered sushi and sashimi from Mi-Ne, the best of our many local Japanese restaurants. I purposely avoided ordering bluefin tuna (which is on the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s do not eat list) but I couldn’t resist a double order of big eye tuna sashimi. I just crossed my fingers and hoped it was not caught with a longline.

While we were eating our dinner, Martin and Oliver and I discussed how hard it is to be a conscientious sushi consumer who avoids fish that are on the Watch and Avoid lists. As both an active member of the Endangered Fish Alliance and a very concerned earthling who buys hundreds of pounds of seafood a day, Martin knows the fish on the endangered list by heart and follows the latest breaking news on the subject closely (in fact, he’s excited that we now have a Canadian program that is similar to Monterey’s).

When we finished eating, he went to the computer and pulled up this recent article, which reports encouraging news about the bluefin tuna crisis.

In précis, the article talks about Kindai, a farmed version of bluefin, developed at Kinki University’s aquaculture program in Japan. Although you can’t give the buyers of this tuna points for shopping locally, you certainly can thank them for finding an alternative to depleting the ocean stock of bluefin tuna.

Next time I see bluefin tuna on a restaurant menu, I’m going to ask if it is Kindai. I know it isn’t likely that it will be, but at least I’ll be letting restaurateurs know what I want before I order something else.

I know I told you to avoid Chinese food restaurants that serve shark fin soup two weeks ago and that I shook my finger about tetra packs last week. I might seem pushy but I feel really strongly that we all need to take responsibility for changing habits that are negatively affecting the earth and the oceans. Do you agree? If not, let me know.


6 Responses to Bluefin blues

  1. Kim says:

    I love tuna, but can’t seem to acquire a taste for it seared and raw on the inside. I wish I could because it looks so good. Love your garden btw!

  2. Cheryl says:

    I don’t think it’s pushy for you to try to educate us since that’s why many of us are reading this blog in the first place — to learn something new about food and to gain from your expertise. We’re certainly all free to follow your advice or not. I, for one, appreciate your willingness to tackle some of these trickier issues head-on.

  3. danamccauley says:

    Cheryl, thanks for your support! Lately the news is crowded with food stories that hit me on a visceral level. I’ve felt a little preachy in this blog but just haven’t been able to pass up opportunities to share my opinions.

    Kim, I hope you don’t feel badly about liking tuna (and other foods) cooked the way they taste good to you. Although I always like to advise readers about how foods are generally accepted as cooked to an ideal state, I think that everyone should follow their own palates. If you like tuna cooked well, so be it. Enjoy!

  4. Andrea SK says:

    I agree, good work! It’s important to be informed about what you’re eating… And restaurants respond to their customers, so it’s equally as important to ask questions!

  5. aser says:

    I think there’s a double standard involved when people advocate banning shark’s fin, yet continue eating bluefin tuna specifically. If you feel that passionate about shark’s fin, why is it ok to eat tuna that is overfished? I feel there is a double standard involved when people tackle these causes, they advocate whatever is convenient to their palette.

    Personally, I let people make up their own minds.

  6. Cheah Hooi Giam says:

    With regards to your ‘advice’ on not eating sharks fins, I ‘d like to point you to a comment by Eugene Lapointe, a former secretary-General of CITES(the world gold standard on whether an animal could be traded etc) who points out that the anti-sharks fins campaign is based on cultural and personal bias.Most Nations are signatories to CITES.
    Please check your facts, most sharks are killed as a bycatch(at least 50% according to fisheries estimates). Sharks fins contribute only a small proportion of sharks harvested. Please check which top 20 nations harvest 80% of the world’s sharks. In fact, two species of sharks that are endangered currently, the porbeagle shark and spiny dogfish had been harvested to extinction for their prized meat for generations. Shark cartilage(of which shark fins is made from) is used in many western countries as a’ health food’ supplement and making certain arhtritis drugs. Just go into any health food shop and you’d see what I mean!
    Furthermore, if one should not eat sharks fins because its cruel, this statement is laughable if not hypocritical! Which animal that humans consume is not bled to death? it just seems so human centric to suggest that the shark is ‘wasted’ when the fins are cut and the carcass thrown back into the sea!

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