Sushi The Global Catch, A Documentary Film
“I used to commercially fish in the old days, and rape, pillage and plunder, but aquaculture is the way of the future.”
Sushi: The Global Catch is a critically important feature-length documentary that explores how sushi became a worldwide phenomenon, and how the world’s hunger for the Japanese cuisine is having a potentially devastating effect on ocean ecosystems and fish populations. Shot over the course of two years in five countries, the film investigates the history, problems, and future of this popular cuisine. Sushi: The Global Catch is a call to action that questions the sustainability of sushi given the dramatic decline of Blue Fin and Yellow Fin tuna populations in the face of sushi’s meteoric rise in popularity—worldwide. With ever-expanding sushi markets in China, India, Russia and the U.S., wild fish populations are declining and are at great risk of extinction.
Sushi: The Global Catch tells the story of how sushi became a global cuisine. Filmmaker Mark Hall interviews over two dozen industry experts including scientists, marine biologists, environmental activists, sushi chefs, fish buyers and sellers, and others in the world of sushi. Hall meticulously traces the history of sushi in Japan to its prominence today as a cuisine that has generated a lucrative worldwide industry.
Today the consumption of sushi represents a four billion dollar industry. The popularity of sushi is coming at an enormous cost. Is the current sushi trade sustainable? Will the worldwide hunger for sushi continue to grow until wild fish virtually vanish, or will new technology like aquaculture keep plates full? Can sustainable sushi restaurants satisfy consumers or will competition for declining resources drive prices so high that only a few can afford raw fish?
Sushi: The Global Catch raises many critical questions that all sushi lovers, governments, policy makers, environmentalists, and educated consumers should seek to address, so that Blue Fin tuna and fish stocks in general, remain healthy for future generations to come.
Winner of the Special Jury Prize at the 2011 Seattle International Film Festival.
Film Length: 75 Minutes
Film Premier: 2011
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Some Facts to Consider
- 90% of the large fish in the oceans are gone.
- Scientists say by 2048 all the commercial fish in the oceans will be gone. 100% will be gone if we don’t act.
- Fisheries expert Boris Worm found that the ocean’s fish will be commercially extinct by 2043.
- Greenpeace states that the Blue Fin tuna in the Mediterranean will be extinct in 3-5 years.
- In January 2011, a single Blue Fin tuna was auctioned for a record-breaking $400,000 at Tsukiji Market in Japan.
- China will add 50 million sushi consumers in coming years.
- Greenpeace Tuna Action – Albatunatress – this ship can take 300,000 tons of tuna in a single trip.
What You Can Do
- Stop Eating Fish Altogether – Our greatest weapon is the fork—adopt a plant-based, animal-free diet that doesn’t cause harm. Plant protein is equally healthy, contains less saturated fat and cholesterol, and doesn’t destroy our oceans.
- Next Best is to Consume Fish More Responsibly, Ethically and Sustainably – By eating less of it and only the fish listed on the Seafood Watch Program Guide iPhone App at www.seafoodwatch.org.
- *Don’t Order, Buy or Eat These Fish Ever – Atlantic Halibut (wild), Blue Fin Tuna, Deepwater Fish (ALL), Eel, Prawns (wild or farm raised), Marlin, Orange Roughy, Sea bass, Shark, Skate, Spurdog (Spiny Dogfish), Sturgeon Caviar (wild), Swordfish, and Whitebait. *These fish are disappearing and being depleted beyond reproduction and replacement.
- *Avoid These Fish – Pollock, Anchovy from Portugal, Flounder, Haddock, Hake, Halibut (Atlantic, farmed, open net), Herring, Mackerel, Monkfish, Pangasius, Pollack, Red Mullet, Atlantic Salmon (wild), Scampi or Lobsters (wild), Sea bass, Skate and Rays, Shark and Dogfish, Sole, Trout (only farmed), Tuna (all sources). *All are being overfished.
- If You Do Buy Fish, ONLY Purchase These Fish (Mostly Farmed) – Arctic Char (farmed), bass (farmed, US), catfish, clams, oysters, cod (Pacific only), crab (Alaska), freshwater Prawn (US & Canada), Rockfish (Pacific Coast), Black Cod (AK & Canada), Salmon (AK only), Sand dabs (Pacific Coast), Sardines (Pacific Coast), Scallops (farmed), Shrimp (farmed only) Tilapia (Canada & US), and Trout (US farmed only).
- Shop at the Most Responsible Supermarkets – Buy your seafood from supermarkets that do not buy non-sustainable fish (see above list), and only sell sustainable and farmed fish.
- Learn more about Dr. Barbara Block’s Tuna Research at tunaresearch.org.
- Vote for federal and state government representatives that will actively campaign to protect our oceans, marine life and environment, and support sustainability and sustainable practices. Stricter government and inter-government regulations and agreements to severely limit fishing quotas are what’s needed.
- For more resources, visit SushiTheGlobalCatch.com.
Quotes From the Film
“The problem is coming from the demand and the industry.”
“In a lot of ways we’re on the wrong track with fishing, but we must figure it out. We must eat sustainably caught fish from now on. The choice is ultimately ours as individuals.”
“90 percent of the large fish in the oceans are gone—Blue Fin tuna, swordfish and sharks—we have caught them all. We need to bring these species back. We need to take far fewer of them.”
“When the Chinese start eating sushi—the Blue Fin will go. Forever.”
“China’s growing sushi appetite—there will be 50 million sushi eaters in coming years in China. But there’s growing concern because China’s appetite for sushi alone could wipe out the Blue Fin tuna population.”
“What can an individual sushi lover can do to help? See the Seafood Watch Program Guide to make better seafood choices – there’s a red list seafood to avoid, instead order from the green list.”
“Looking at the world, people are eating more and more fish in China, Russia and Brazil. The demand is growing and is going to continue to grow in the future.”
“Tuna migrate for thousands of miles, but they also extremely fast. Tunas are the Porshes of the oceans. They are as fast as a Porshe, as big as a Porshe and as expensive as a Porche.”
“They take many years to get to be a giant Blue Fin tuna. They are at the top of the evolutionary tree, they are right up there with other supreme species of fish.”
“The decreasing amount of Blue Fin is a serious problem—it’s why I’m retiring from fishing and trying to educate.”
“We want to demonstrate to the rest of the sushi restauranteurs, that you can do sushi sustainably. No Blue Fin tuna, unagi, eel, or farmed salmon.”
“In 1971, we shipped the first tuna, and it was the starting point for the growth of sushi worldwide.”
“The love of sushi is driving a global effort to get tuna. If this continues, this species will not be here for future generations.”
“Nothing in the ocean can touch the Blue Fin tuna, it’s a top predator, an APEX predator. An animal like this provides an irreplaceable ecosystem benefit. We need top predators in the ocean, because they eat smaller animals.”
“If you take the top predators out of the trophic system, then you have an explosive sub-system of animals, so you lose the top predator, then you lose the 3rd tier of predator, because the 2nd eats the 3rd tier, then the 2nd has nothing to eat, so they die. Then all you have left is jellyfish. We can’t afford to lose this fish.”
“There is no species that have fared worse at the hands of humans. than the Blue Fin tuna. The population has been taken down by 80 percent, so all we have left is 20 percent of Blue Fin tuna.”
“The way that salmon are farmed right now, is not sustainable. Salmon is a seasonal fish, but we are raising salmon year-round and it’s unnatural and not sustainable.”
“We are never going to be able to save the Blue Fin tuna when it’s such a low priority. Governments have failed, repeatedly, the fish is just too valuable for its own good.”
“It’s going to be up to groups like Greenpeace and others, to take action that will make the headlines, keep the issue in people’s minds, and to force governments to do justice for Blue Fin tuna.”
“One way to solve the problem is to use farmed fish.”
“Tuna farming started in Australia. The original fish are wild, they spend six months in the cage to add more weight. For every one pound of tuna, at least 15 pounds of other fish have to be fed to the tuna for each pound of weight gain. We catch about 500,000 tons of tuna each year for ranching.”
“The fish raised in Australia, go to Japan for the auctions, then are sold to all parts of the world.”
“By spawning the Blue Fin tuna, they can raise the eggs and hatch them. In the next 6-7 years, the tuna that you have in sushi restaurants will all be propagated tuna. There’s just no other way.”
Directed & Produced by: Mark S. Hall
Executive Directors: Dan Green, Scott Gaynor, Alberto Tamura, Robert Barnhart, and Lynn Edmundson
Edited by: Susan Adair, A.C.E. And Catie Cacci
Composer: Brian Satterwhite
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