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WA Sushi: Sure, it’s Raw – but is it Sustainable?

October 22, 2008

Seattle, WA - Sushi lovers will have an unusual new source of information about seafood safety beginning today. The Seattle Aquarium plans to unveil a new "sustainable sushi" reference card, electronic or printed, to help sushi-lovers make smarter choices about the fish they eat.

The new card is a companion to a popular list of "sustainable seafood" choices, both created for West Coast diners.
It lists the types of fish that are farmed or caught in ways that don't harm the environment or the species. Mark Plunkett, conservation curator at the Aquarium, says it also lists what to pass up on sushi menus and at supermarkets.

"You'll find 15 or 20 choices under 'Best Choices' and under 'Good Alternatives.' Both of those are a 'go.' The 'avoid' list is one-third the size of the other two combined, so there are many positive choices one could make."

Some choices may surprise shoppers, explains Plunkett. For instance, red snapper is not recommended. He says it's because so many types of fish are sold as 'red snapper' – when they're not.

"Because of this confusion with the labeling, red snapper is on the 'avoid' list; whereas people would find it almost anywhere they go to buy it, thinking, 'Hey, this is abundant.' In fact, it may not actually be red snapper."

The list ranks wild Alaskan salmon and farm-raised striped bass among the best choices for environmentally-friendly seafood in Washington. The Seattle Aquarium is teaming with California's Monterey Bay Aquarium to offer the new sustainable sushi card, as well as the sustainable seafood guide. Both are available free, online at www.seattleaquarium.org. (lick on "Conservation," and then on "Seafood Watch.")

Visitors to the Seattle Aquarium today will get a first look at the card, and can sample free sushi, from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

Chris Thomas, Public News Service - WA