Archive for the ‘Fish’ Category


Making Waves About Sushi: An Interview with Mark Hall

Pin It

Nourishing the Planet’s Victoria Russo recently spoke with Mark Hall, an independent filmmaker based in Austin, Texas, who produced the 2012 documentary, Sushi: The Global Catch. Inspired by the prevalence of sushi in seemingly unlikely places, from Warsaw, Poland to football games in Texas, Hall created the film to track the global implications of the international raw fish industry and to better understand the consequences of sushi as a global phenomenon. 

“Sushi: The Global Catch” tracks the global implications of the international raw fish market. (Photo Credit: Francesca Forrestal)

How did your interest in the sushi industry begin? What inspired you?

I have always enjoyed eating sushi, and actually got my inspiration for the documentary while doing some non-film related work in Poland a few years ago. I was working with a group from the Ministry of Agriculture in Warsaw to assist a private organic cooperative with small farmers. When we broke for lunch, I was shocked by the fact that they proposed going for sushi. I later discovered that there were about 30 to 40 sushi restaurants in Warsaw at the time, and I was struck by how much of a global presence sushi had become in such a short amount of time. The original idea for the documentary focused largely on the lengthy global supply chains that support our growing desire for sushi, but as we delved deeper into the filming, we realized that there were significant economic, social, and environmental consequences of the growth of the sushi industry that needed to be addressed.

How did sushi grow from being a traditionally Japanese dish to a global favorite?

The Japanese pride themselves in inventing and maintaining a strong cultural tradition of making sushi. In fact, while I was in graduate school in Japan some of my Japanese friends would tease foreigners by daring them into eating sushi, because Americans at the time were not used to eating raw fish. By introducing sushi to the world, the Japanese opened something of a Pandora’s box. Now the rest of the world loves it, and it is making it more difficult for the Japanese to access the dish that they created and love. While filming “Sushi: The Global Catch,” I received a letter telling me that the first sushi restaurant in Rwanda had just opened, and I was amazed by how globalized eating sushi has become.

How has sushi changed since it has been exposed to the global market?

As sushi has grown in popularity, we have lost a sense of the cultural origins of the cuisine. In Japan, sushi started out as a meal intended for special occasions. Now, it is accessible in most parts of the world—even in gas stations. There has been cultural dilution, and non-Japanese chefs have created variations on the dish that the Japanese themselves would not even consider sushi. There are California rolls, Philadelphia rolls, and in my hometown of Austin, Texas, they even serve a Longhorn roll that has ribeye steak and candied jalapenos in it.

The film includes a segment about a school district in Texas that serves sushi at football games and various events. When you can get a good-sized sushi meal for around $10, sushi becomes more available to those working with a lower budget. The Sushi Popper, a portable package of sushi on a push-up stick, recently entered the global market and is redefining how sushi is understood. It makes it easier to buy, ship, and serve sushi in vending machines, airplanes, and schools. We need to consider the implications of sushi’s global supply chain.



Aquaponics: An Interview with Sweet Water Organics’ Matt Ray

Pin It

Nourishing the Planet’s Kimberlee Davies spoke recently with Matt Ray, the principal farmer for Sweet Water Organics, an aquaponics training organization in Milwaukee, about his experience in the field of aquaponics.

Sweet Water Organics uses aquaponics technology to grow food in downtown Milwaukee.

What is aquaponics? How did you become involved?

Aquaponics has been around for centuries. It was traditionally a technique in tropical climates, using floating bamboo rafts with vegetation in fresh water pools. This was simply the adaptation of agriculture to the tropics. The technique has become cutting edge over the last 20 years. We can adapt aquaponics to today’s geographies and culture.

Aquaponics is a blending of aquaculture (the raising of aquatic animals) and hydroponics (growing plants in water without soil). In aquaponics, aquatic animals serve as the nutrition base for the plants. The great thing about aquaponics is that it is a closed system; it doesn’t have to flow in one pipe and out of another.

I saw it begin to pop up in the late 1980s, starting with the Virgin Islands, Australia, and even Asia, where fish are grown symbiotically with rice paddies. Forward-thinking farmers and activists began to develop the practice in non-tropical climates, and academics began researching the field. Twenty years later, we have a lot more people doing it. Scientific data has emerged to support the spread and success of this technique. It’s possible to take the nuts and bolts and adapt them to wherever you are. It’s going to work and it can be replicated.



Nourishing the Planet TV: Aqua Shops

Pin It

In this week’s episode, Nourishing the Planet discusses FARM-Africa’s aquacultural initiative in western Kenya, which has established an Aqua Shop franchise that provides farmers with technical advice about aquaculture practices and give them the necessary materials to set up and maintain healthy fish ponds.


To purchase your own copy of State of the World 2011: Innovations that Nourish the Planet, please click HERE.


Aquaculture Feeding World’s Insatiable Appetite for Seafood

Pin It

By Danielle Nierenberg and Katie Spoden

Total global fish production, including both wild capture fish and aquaculture, reached an all-time high of 154 million tons in 2011, and aquaculture is set to top 60 percent of production by 2020, according to new research conducted for Worldwatch’s Vital Signs Online service. Wild capture was 90.4 million tons in 2011, up 2 percent from 2010. Aquaculture, in contrast, has been expanding steadily for the last 25 years and saw a rise of 6.2 percent in 2011.

The global demand for farmed fish is increasing (Photo Credit: Vera Kratochvil)

Growth in fish farming can be a double-edged sword, however. Despite its potential to affordably feed an ever-growing global population, it can also contribute to problems of habitat destruction, waste disposal, invasions of exotic species and pathogens, and depletion of wild fish stock.

Humans ate 130.8 million tons of fish in 2011. The remaining 23.2 million tons of fish went to non-food uses such as fishmeal, fish oil, culture, bait, and pharmaceuticals. The human consumption figure has increased 14.4 percent over the last five years. And consumption of farmed fish has risen tenfold since 1970, at an annual average of 6.6 percent per year. Asia consumes two thirds of the fish caught or grown for consumption.



Cobia: Out of the Ocean, Into the Pen

Pin It

By Joseph Zaleski & Jeffrey Lamoureux

Many of the world’s most popular fish species are being overfished to satisfy growing demand for seafood. For researchers, the challenge is to find species that can be sustainably harvested with minimal damage to the world’s ecosystems. The cobia, Rachycentron canadum, is a promising species.

Cobia produce flavorful, healthy filets. (Image credit: Florida Sport Fishing)

Cobia is found throughout the world’s tropical and subtropical waters. Dark brown with white stripes along the sides of their long, spindle-shaped bodies, they can grow to be six feet long and live for 15 years. Because of their size they are occasionally mistaken for sharks, and are often called “crabeaters” because the bulk of their diet is crustaceans and other invertebrates.

Cobia is flavorful and is used regularly in sashimi, ceviche, and grilled dishes throughout Asia and the Americas. It is a good, low-fat source of protein and several vitamins and minerals. Cobia is not a household name, however, because the fish are difficult to produce on a large scale. Cobia is generally solitary and stays near the ocean surface, preferring the shade of objects like buoys, piers, and platforms. This makes them a great catch for recreational fishers, but unviable for commercial fishermen.



Sushi with a Side of Conservation

Pin It

By Graham Salinger 

“Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime,” so the saying goes.   But how do we feed ourselves once we run out of fish? The U.N.Food and Agriculture Origination (FAO) reports that the number of people around the world who rely on fish for protein is increasing. And, as a result, the world‘s fish resources are being depleted.

A sushi restaurant in Portland helps preserve marine protected areas (Photo credit: Bamboo Sushi)

According to Nourishing the Planet’s research for the Worldwatch Institute’s Vital Signs Online, global fish production is at its highest level. Meanwhile, the FAO reports that an estimated 53 percent of fisheries are considered fully exploited. Furthermore, scientists predict that by 2030 an additional 37 million tons of farmed fish will need to be produced per year in order to meet demand.

To address some the challenges that overfishing present to people’s livelihood, Kristofor Lofgren started a sustainable sushi restaurant in Portland, Oregon. He created the restaurant to involve consumers in the process of conserving food resources.  He calls it the principle of “consumer regeneration” and he believes that it will help food lovers give back to the environment.Menu items at Lofgren’s Bamboo Sushi restaurant include salmon, tuna, and other sushi favorites. Conservation is also on the menu as patrons are invited to make donations to help save endangered sea life.



What Works: Aquaculture

Pin It

By Caitlin Aylward

This post is part of a series where Nourishing the Planet asks its readers: What works? Every week we’ll ask the question and every week you can join the conversation!

Aquaculture can be an effective means of feeding our planet and encouraging economic development. (Photo credit: Burt Lum)

As world population and incomes increase, so has the demand for fish and seafood. As of 2009, the world’s total fish production from fish caught in the wild and aquaculture reached an all time high of 145.1 million tons, a number that is only growing.

But aquaculture can be a way of procuring seafood that not only protects wild fish species and the environment, but also helps alleviate global poverty and food insecurity.

Aquaculture, in contrast with commercial fishing of wild fish, is the cultivation of fish and other aquatic life under controlled marine or freshwater environments.

According to the FAO, aquaculture is the world’s fastest-growing source of animal protein, providing around half of the world’s fish supplies.