Will sushi ever be sustainable?

I love sushi. All you can eat sushi might be one of the greatest inventions of all time. However, after recently learning about how bad sushi is for the environment it pretty much took the fun out of it. It’s not fun to eat things once you know that those animals you’re eating are slowly moving towards extinction because they’re being over-fished. It feels like you’re doing a dirty thing when it’s supposed to be fun.

After researching the topic more I found that the most over-fished sushi is the Bluefin tuna (I’m sure some of you already know that). The Pacific Bluefin population and other species of tuna have actually decreased by 33% within the past two decades because of the demand for sushi in Western cultures. Even other populations of sea animals like shrimp, crab, and eel are now being over-fished. There are some researchers currently working on trying to raise farm-raised tuna so we can “have our fish and eat it too”. However, other scientists that have looked into the project say it’s unethical to raise tuna in small tanks because in the wild they swim up to 80km an hour. To be frank, isn’t that what we already do to chickens?

All in all, the demand for sushi is extremely high today even though it ruins our ocean ecosystems and habitats. By over-fishing tuna, we leave gaps in the food chain because we deprive the animals that eat tuna of food. This topic reminds me of what we talked about in class in terms of the environmental effects of meat. We also need to look at the environmental effects of fish (as well as other things we consume). Like the book and professor Macleod says, it’s not just about what we put in our bodies but it’s also about the environments in which we live and love. In order to do what’s right for the fish populations and for our bodies, we need to look at not only the environmental factors but also the humane ethical concerns that come with it. So I leave you with a few questions that need to be answered in order to make any progression on the topic: If tuna swim 80km an hour, should we still farm raise them? Is there a way to lower the demand for sushi? As hard as it would be to get approved, should certain fish not be on the menu?

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1 thought on “Will sushi ever be sustainable?”

  1. This topic is of great importance as it is a constant ethical and economic battle in a big part of Asia. Fish, as well as rice, is a food staple. The sea is a source of living for many and it plays a big role in their religious faith. It is believed that eating sushi makes people live longer and healthier. Sushi started off as a way to preserve fish so that it can be eaten later (before refrigerators). So it is almost impossible to ask these people who have been eating sushi since the 8th century to stop now. It would be as if you were to ask them to give centuries of cultural heritage, just like that. There is nothing wrong in the use of sushi, whether it strengthens faith and cultural beliefs or boots economic activities. The problem began with the massive population growths in Asia, the proliferation of some myths based on eating seafood (like the myth behind fin soup for newly wed couples), the popularity of sushi to westerners, all of which increase the demand for fish whilst oceans don’t grow bigger. On top of all, the problem we are facing is that we do not have efficient ethically correct ways of increasing the yield without affecting the ecosystem. It seems the only chance we might have is to find a way to decrease the demand for seafood, thus reducing overfishing. I think it would be possible to stop overfishing by first understanding the cultural practices, providing better alternatives, and combining political and economic strategies together.

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