Organic Housekeepers, cleaning with a conscience, saving the earth one tub at a time.Think about the state of our ocean before ordering sushi

Read past Greener Pastures columns

Bad sushi
- Kani/Crab, King (Imported)
- Unagi/Eel, Freshwater
- Hirame/Flounder (U.S. Atlantic Wild-caught)
- Hirame/Halibut, Atlantic
- Ankoh/Monkfish
-Ankimo/Monkfish Liver
- New Zealand Tai Snapper (Danish Seine, Trawl)
-Tako/Octopus, Common
- Sake/Salmon (Farmed)
- Uni/Sea Urchin Roe (Maine)
- Shrimp (Mexico Farmed in Open Systems)
- Ebi/Shrimp (Imported Wild-caught)
- Ebi/Shrimp (Imported Farmed in Open Systems)
- Tai/Snapper, Red
- Hirame/Sole (U.S. Atlantic)
- Izumidai/Tilapia (China, Taiwan Farmed)
- Shiro Maguro/Tuna, Albacore (Worldwide, Except Hawaii Longline)
- Maguro/Toro/Tuna, Bigeye (Worldwide, Except U.S. Atlantic Longline)
- Hon Maguro/Toro/Tuna, Bluefin
- Hon Maguro/Toro/Tuna, Bluefin (Ranched)
- Aku/Tuna, Skipjack (Imported Longline)
- Maguro/Toro/Tuna, Yellowfin (Longline, Purse Seine)
- Hamachi/Yellowtail (Australia Farmed)
- Hamachi/Yellowtail (Japan Farmed)

Good sushi
- Awabi/Abalone (U.S. Farmed)
- Iwana/Arctic Char (Farmed in Recirculating Systems)
- Masago/Smelt roe/Capelin (Iceland)
- Mirugai/Giant Clam/Geoduck (Wild-caught)
- Sawara/Mackerel, Spanish (U.S. Atlantic, U.S. Gulf of Mexico)
- Muurugai/Mussels (Farmed)
- Kaki/Oysters (Farmed)
- Gindara/Sablefish/Black Cod (Alaska, British Columbia)
- Sake/Salmon (Alaska Wild-caught)
- Ikura/Salmon Roe (Alaska Wild-caught)
- Iwashi/Sardines (U.S. Pacific)
- Uni/Sea Urchin Roe (Canada)
- Amaebi/Spot Prawn (British Columbia)
- Suzuki/Striped Bass (Farmed)
- Suzuki/Striped Bass (Wild-caught)
Izumidai/Tilapia (U.S. Farmed)
- Shiro Maguro/Tuna, Albacore (U.S., Canadian Pacific Troll, Pole-and-line)
- Katsuo/Bonito/Tuna, Skipjack (Troll, Pole-and-line)

Seafood Watch

So what’s wrong with tuna, anyway?
Think about the state of the ocean before ordering sushi

By Cassie Pence

During a friend’s birthday party at a local sushi joint, when the scribe was diligently marking our rather sizeable order in pencil, I voiced my preference: “Tuna’s my favorite.” And from across the table, my food-loving friend responded, “but we’re not Greener Pasturessupposed to eat tuna.”

I sulked a little, knowing my guilty pleasure, but other guests leaned forward, eyes wide open, and asked, “What? What’s wrong with tuna?”

“Over fished,” I said.

“The mercury,” my food-loving friend said.

And we all shuffled a bit uncomfortably until someone changed the subject.

I have written about tuna before in this column because no matter the tuna — big eye, albacore, bluefin — we as humans have done something wrong to it. It’s either over fished, full of mercury or the way we catch it is endangering other innocent “byswimmers” like turtles and seabirds. It’s a shame because raw tuna tastes like heaven when dipped in soy, ginger and wasabi.  Tuna is arguably the perfect food, too, with its nutritious benefits — high in omega 3 fatty acids, high proteins, potassium and vitamin B.

My food-loving friend was right: “We’re not supposed to eat tuna.”

So to update myself on the state of the ocean, in hopes of curbing my guilty pleasure and ordering more sustainably next time, I headed online straight to Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch. It’s a definitive source on the state of our oceans, it’s easy to use (even an iPhone app) and you can check every fish you might order when dining.

But to really determine which fish you are eating, you are going to need to ask some questions of the kitchen, because like a lot of things sustainable, it’s a matter of details. Troll, longline, farmed — the way it’s caught or raised makes a difference. So does where the tuna hails. So before you order sushi, you must ask these two questions: Where is it from? And how is it caught?

Our table didn’t ask those questions, in fact, we just talked, drank beer and saki and devoured. Sang “Happy Birthday” and ate cupcakes, too. But upon waking with sushi breath, I thought “What’s wrong with tuna, anyways?”

I would like to share some of the answers.

Since “tuna is my favorite,” here is the state of “My Favorite Tuna” according to Seafood Watch:

Bigeye Tuna
A valuable tuna prized for its sashimi-quality flesh, bigeye tuna is found throughout the world’s oceans. Although bigeye matures and reproduces quickly, populations in the Pacific and Indian Oceans are declining.

Consumer Note
Bigeye is often sold fresh or frozen by its Hawaiian name ahi and is commonly used for sashimi. When served as sushi it is sold as maguro or toro (tuna belly).

Health Alert
Environmental Defense Fund has issued a health advisory for longline-caught bigeye tuna due to elevated levels of mercury. (No consumption advisories are listed for troll- or pole-and-line-caught bigeye as these methods catch younger tuna with lower mercury levels.)

BEST CHOICE: Ahi,, Po’onui, Patudo, Maguro, Toro
IF CAUGHT IN: U.S. Atlantic
AND CAUGHT BY: Troll, Pole-and-line

GOOD ALTERNATIVE: Ahi,, Po’onui, Patudo, Maguro, Toro
IF CAUGHT IN: U.S. Atlantic
IF CAUGHT BY: Longline

GOOD ALTERNATIVE: Ahi,, Po’onui, Patudo, Maguro, Toro
IF CAUGHT IN: Worldwide
IF CAUGHT BY: Troll, Pole-and-line

AVOID: Ahi,, Po’onui, Patudo, Maguro, Toro
IF CAUGHT IN: Worldwide, Except U.S. Atlantic
IF CAUGHT BY: Longline

This gives you an idea of the kind of information you can find on Seafood Watch, so check out your favorite fish. Your choices matter, it will make or break the state of the ocean. And the sea is in our need, Seafood Watch has plenty on the avoid list.

Freelance writer Cassie Pence is passionate about living a more sustainable lifestyle. She and her husband, Captain Vacuum, own Organic Housekeepers, a green cleaning company. Contact her at





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