Last year, Nobu was caught red-handed serving critically-endangered bluefin tuna to patrons, even after servers claimed its tuna was not bluefin. Now after heavy criticism, the trendy restaurant, owned by Robert DeNiro and popular with celebrities, has finally taken action.
It hasn’t removed bluefin tuna from its menu, as demanded by many environmental organizations and as its competitors have done. Instead, it has added a warning to the menu. An asterix next to its bluefin tuna dishes leads the patron to a message from Nobu on the bottom of the menu, which reads: “Bluefin tuna is an environmentally threatened species – please ask your server for an alternative.”
Media outlets are describing the decision as ‘bizarre’, full of ‘mixed-messages’, and even ‘indefensible idiocy’.
The very wording is strange in that bluefin tuna is not ‘environmentally threatened’, but ‘critically-endangered’—an important distinction.
“Eating bluefin tuna is as bad as digging into a tiger steak or gorilla burger. It is entirely unacceptable that Nobu, or any restaurant, is serving an endangered species, and it must stop immediately if the species is to be saved from extinction,” said Willie Mackenzie, Greenpeace UK Oceans Campaigner when the organization discovered Nobu was serving bluefin last year. In a recent study The World Wildlife Fund found that unless the bluefin tuna fishery closes entirely, the fish will be functionally extinct in 3 years.
Despite its status, bluefin tuna is still legal to catch and serve. However, there is also a thriving illegal bluefin tuna market, meaning that all quotas set for bluefin tuna are surpassed.
A campaign has been waged against Nobu for five years regarding its decision to keep bluefin on the menu; it’s unlikely this new move will change that.
(05/12/2009) A few weeks into the bluefin tuna fishing season and Turkey has decided to go it alone. Breaking international agreements, the Turkish government has announced that it will ignore agreed-upon bluefin tuna quotas. The news is not good for the survival of the critically-endangered fish species, since Turkey operates the largest Mediterranean fleet for bluefin tuna.
(04/14/2009) If the Mediterranean bluefin tuna fishery is not closed, the bluefin will be functionally extinct by 2012 according to a new analysis from World Wildlife Fund (WWF). While the population has undergone steep declines for over a decade, fishery managers and policy-makers have continually ignored calls from scientists that fishing must stop if the Mediterranean bluefin tuna is to survive.
(09/08/2008) Nobu, a pricey and trendy sushi restaurant with locations around the world, regularly serves critically-endangered Northern bluefin tuna to its clientele, reveals an investigation by the environmental group Greenpeace.