Now sushi lovers can make informed seafood choices that please the palate and safeguard the oceans. Environmental Defense Fund’s new Sushi Selector lists choices by Japanese and English names, and ranks them according to whether fish are caught or farmed in an environmentally responsible way and if their contaminant levels pose a health risk.
For sushi aficionados, that means both pleasant surprises — and some disappointments. Popular items like toro (bluefin tuna) and unagi (freshwater eel) are on the Eco-Worst list, as is most sake (made with farmed or Atlantic salmon). These species are either overfished, caught in ways that destroy ocean habitats or kill large amounts of other sea life, or they are farmed with methods that pollute the ocean or threaten nearby wild fish populations.
But such choices as sake made from wild-caught Alaska salmon, hotate (farmed scallops ) and hirame (Pacific halibut ) are Eco-Best choices, in part because they come from abundant, well-managed fisheries or — in the case of scallops — are raised using eco-friendly aquaculture methods.
One caveat: Sushi is rarely labeled with species names, where the fish came from, or whether it was caught or farmed. Ask your server, chef or sushi purveyor for this information.