A ranking recently released by Greenpeace Taiwan of nine local sushi restaurants and Japanese chain stores serving seafood found that all nine establishments could make improvements in their selection of fish, as could the fisherman they work with in the methods they use to catch fish.
The ranking — conducted based on information gathered by people posing as customers — on the chains’ procurement policies, commitment to sustainable fishing, traceability of fish catch and data transparency, found that none of the restaurants surveyed knew whether the fishermen affiliated with them used destructive fishing methods.
Among the restaurants polled, only Super Fresh (順益) and iKKi (藝奇) provided answers to whether the fish they use are endangered or vulnerable species.
Super Fresh fared the best in the ranking, scoring 20 out of a possible 30 points, followed by iKKi, which scored 17 points.
Sushi Express, which has about 200 stores and is the nation’s largest sushi chain, performed the poorest, scoring just 2 points in the ranking system.
Greenpeace Taiwan ocean campaigner Hsieh Yi-hsuan (謝易軒) said that excessive and illegal fishing are rampant in today’s fishing industry.
Most restaurants do not publicize information on how they source their seafood, in what ways the fish were caught, or the vulnerability of the fish they serve, Hsieh added.
The phenomenon poses a threat to marine ecology and could destroy fishermen’s livelihoods if fish species that are in demand become extinct.
Among fish species commonly associated with seafood, the danger of extinction is especially critical for tuna, with many tuna species listed on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s red list of threatened species, Hsieh said.
Citing statistics published by the International Scientific Committee in 2012, she said the number of blackfin tuna worldwide had plummeted by 96.4 percent since 1952.
Eel, a popular choice among sashimi lovers, is also on the committee’s list, she added.
Fishing methods play an important role in the conservation of marine animals; for example, seining, gillnetting and the use of fish aggregating devices all have a destructive impact on marine ecology, Hsieh said.
“Seining results in by-catching, which often sees endangered marine species, such as sharks, captured along with fish caught for meat, while fish aggregating devices capture excessive amounts of fish at once by luring them with the shade it creates,” the activist said.
She urged Taiwanese fishermen to heed the stipulations issued during the annual meeting of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission, of which Taiwan is a member, and use fishing tools accordingly.
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