10/17/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Wanted: Sustainable Sushi

Seafood chefs around the U.S. are paying a lot more attention to sustainability and the environment these days, but one group of fish-wielding chefs has yet to jump on the bandwagon: sushi chefs. Considering the vast quantities of tuna, salmon, shrimp, eel, and other creatures from the sea that Americans gobble down in the form of sushi, this is a major omission. What's worse, the global sushi trade relies heavily on fishing and farming methods that damage ecosystems and leave particularly massive carbon footprints.

Activists and consumers are starting to take note. Last month, two New York City teenagers became minor celebrities when they exposed the false labeling of fish at Manhattan sushi restaurants for a science project. And just last week, Greenpeace activists exposed the sale of unlabeled Atlantic bluefin tuna at one of the London eateries of sushi superstar Nobu Matsuhisa--a problem because there is growing evidence that the fish are endangered. Melissa Kogut, executive director of the nonprofit Chefs Collaborative in Boston, talks with restaurateurs around the country to help them make more sustainable purchasing decisions, but she has yet to encounter sushi chefs who are proactive on the issue. "It's crucial that more sushi industry folks have ocean-friendly seafood on their radar," she told me.


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