Thursday, August 6, 2009

Nobu and the Blue Fin.....

This is an interesting video about the London restaurant Nobu continuing to serve Blue Fin tuna on its menu. For years there has been a campaign to get the endangered bluefin tuna removed from menus. Restauranters such as Gordon Ramsay and others have complied with public opinion, recognising that stocks are low and populations are at risk of extinction due to overfishing.

A recent investigation by Greenpeace, using DNA testing, showed that Bluefin tuna was on the menu. As beautifully articulated in a Guardian article the response by the restaurant was to place an asterisk by the offending dishes leading to a note at the bottom of the menu pointing out that bluefin is "environmentally challenged". So if you have a conscience (or can't afford it) you can eat hake....if you don't can still eat endangered Bluefin tuna. Is this the way that voluntary market based instruments work with freedom of choice?


  1. You would hope that companies would realise that whilst having a product is important, the sustainability of that product is equally as important.

    What mechanisms are there, if any, that can be used to apply pressure to these companies?

  2. The impact of transparency and accountability is very important in these situations. Market based instruments are just that - market based - essentially voluntary and based on consumer preferences. In market transactions, Adam Smith talked about having 'perfect' information as a necessary condition for successful markets. Clearly when it comes to sustainable fisheries we do not have perfect information when it comes to status of stocks or environmental impact. Therefore, the more we learn about fisheries the more information we bring to bear in our decisions. Of course, having information doesn't necessarily translate into action or behaviour change - as seen above. People may still choose to eat an endangered species. This is an area for more work and action.

    I think this movie also shows the power of direct action and the internet in 'naming and shaming' and building accountability. What can you do?? It's quite simple - do your own research into where your seafood comes from and how it is caught, use resources such as and when you buy or eat out... ASK.

  3. But is there not legislation to protect these species that are on the endangered list? Or is there anyway that it can be created, even as soft law?

    Also for an interesting insight into fisheries I would recommend watching 'End of the line'. A bit biased but even so.