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Three New Guides Make Sushi Selection More Sustainable

MONTEREY BAY, California, October 22, 2008 (ENS) – Sushi lovers no longer have to contribute to the collapse of whole species of fish to satisfy their appetites. Three new sushi selection guides came out today courtesy of the Monterey Bay Aquarium, Environmental Defense and the Blue Ocean Institute to help diners make choices that are easy on the fishes and their habitats.

They alert consumers to the fishing pressures the various fishes are under and the levels of toxics they may contain.

“The sushi that we eat today has its origins in fish preservation techniques that are hundreds of years old,” the aquarium says on its new sushi selection web page. “Then, fish filled our oceans. Today, there are serious concerns about the number of fish left in the sea and it’s time to create new traditions.”

The Monterey Bay Aquarium Sustainable Seafood Guide [www.mbayaq.org] can give high marks for sustainability to the same fish that gets slapped with a health warning. Both Spanish and king mackerel fisheries, for instance, are well managed, and populations are abundant and healthy, resulting in a best choice recommendation.

Yet at the same time, the Environmental Defense Fund has issued a health advisory for Spanish and king mackerel due to high levels of mercury.


Sushi selection guides may help diners protect
their favorite species. (Photo credit unknown)

If diners need to know right there at the sushi bar whether tuna is a better choice than salmon, all three guides have the answer.

The new EDF Seafood Selector To-Go [www.edf.org] offers mobile access to recommendations for more than 200 seafood choices.

“We want to give busy consumers a variety of ways to access our unique compilation of environmental and health research, be it on wallet cards, our website, or their mobile device,” said Tim Fitzgerald, marine scientist for EDF.

The Monterey Bay Aquarium offers a phone accessible log-in for its guide at mobile.seafoodwatch.org

The Blue Ocean Institute sushi guide allows diners in doubt to text FISH and the species name to a number for instant information on the sustainability of the fish in question.

Even the fish in the best to eat category can have serious effects. Pregnant women, for instance, should be aware of the mercury concentrations in tuna, snapper, halibut, and mahimahi. Albacore tuna, listed in the EDF’s best column carries a mercury warning.

Each guide offers something different. The Blue Ocean Institute guide does not mention mercury in red snapper but does say this long-lived species is vulnerable to overfishing and many populations are in decline.

Some of the best choices may not be widely known. Sablefish from Alaska and British Columbia is a best choice of the Monterey Bay Aquarium, which points out that the Alaska sablefish fishery is certified as sustainable to the standard of the Marine Stewardship Council.

Sablefish is also known as black cod and butterfish. It is known as gindara when prepared for sushi.

Found only in the North Pacific, sablefish has a rich, buttery flavor that has brought it to the attention of high-end restaurateurs in the United States and Canada.

The B.C. and Alaska black cod fisheries are well-managed, with healthy and abundant populations. They recently have lowered the amounts of accidental catch of other species such as seabirds.

Some of the worst choices are fish that have been subjected to intense fishing pressure such as bluefin tuna, Chilean sea bass, which is also called Patagonian toothfish; and grouper. All three guides agree, these species deserve a rest.

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