News / USA

Historic Fish Market Goes Green

Workers at Seattle's Pike Place look for sustainable sources of seafood

Customers at Pike Place Fish Market are finding a different selection of seafood now that the stall is going sustainable.
Customers at Pike Place Fish Market are finding a different selection of seafood now that the stall is going sustainable.

Multimedia

Audio
Ann Dornfeld

Pike Place Market is a required stop for visitors to Seattle, Washington. For a century, vendors have sold everything from fruits to hats to books at colorful stalls.

Right at the entry to the market, dozens of tourists crowd around its most famous attraction: a fish stand where the workers throw a salmon back and forth several meters over shoppers' heads. The show always draws laughter and applause.

Taho Kakutani is a fishmonger here. He says as popular as this shop is, the owner and workers are concerned that some of the seafood they're selling today may not be around tomorrow.

First-hand experience with over-fishing

Kakutani recounts a story fish market owner John Yokoyama told.

"When he was a child, him and his father could fish local ling cod and rockfish and salmon. And there really wasn't a question of availability. It was always just there. And things have changed over the last generation or two. Dramatically. So that he went out fishing last summer and he didn't catch a single fish."

Over-fishing also has a cultural impact on groups like Native Americans, who have relied on local seafood for centuries.

"A lot of what we are known for, oysters and crab and salmon, are not simply food commodities," Kakutani says, "but they hold very important emotional and, in some cases, spiritual meanings for whole nations of people."

Search for sustainability

A couple months ago, Yokoyama and his team began a project to switch to sustainably-harvested seafood. They researched what different marine science and environmental organizations consider sustainable. But Kakutani says it wasn't as simple as it sounds.

"It seems like the differences in opinion vary as many as there are different organizations or groups. So what we're learning, so far, is that there isn't any set definition as to what sustainability means."

Now Pike Place Fish Market is working with the Seattle Aquarium and a local sustainable sushi restaurant to determine what the shop should sell, and what it should get rid of.

So far, the shop has stopped buying farm-raised tilapia from Asia and wild-caught steelhead trout and monkfish. They're looking for sources of sustainable shrimp.

Getting US consumers to try something new

Kakutani says shoppers get frustrated when they can't find their favorite fish, like Chilean seabass.

"People love it and it's a fantastic fish. However, it's long been on an endangered species watch list and so we won't be carrying that anymore. And people are gonna have to learn about sablefish - which is a beautiful substitute for it, but yet it's not commonly known."

According to Kakutani, the biggest challenge is finding new fish from sustainable sources to introduce to the public. For one thing, Americans usually don't cook their fish whole, as much of the world does. They tend to buy fillets or steaks. Kakutani says that means Americans haven't tried a lot of fish that taste best cooked whole, like branzino, sea bream, striped bass and mackerel.

"Mackerel has been long thought of as, like, a bait fish for Americans. But, for most of the rest of the world, mackerel is like a delicacy. It's wonderful. And one of the things that we have going for us is that people are becoming a lot more food-savvy these days and are willing to be a little more adventurous."

Kakutani believes everyone should know where their fish comes from.

He hopes the tourists from all over the world who crowd the Pike Place Market will take the shop's new sustainability message back to their hometowns.

You May Like

At Khmer Rouge Court, Long-Awaited Verdict Approaches

First phase of trial, which is coming to an end, has focused on forced exodus of Phnom Penh in 1975 - and now many are hopeful justice will be served More

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities More

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

Downing of Malaysian airliner, allegations of cross-border shelling move information war in war-torn country to a new level More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
July 31, 2014 8:13 PM
The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict in Gaza, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities. Probably the most important destination is the local bakery. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Gaza City.
Video

Video US-Funded Program Offers Honduran Children Alternative to Illegal Immigration

President Obama and Central American leaders recently agreed to come up with a plan to address poverty and crime in the region that is fueling the surge of young migrants trying to illegally enter the United States. VOA’s Brian Padden looks at one such program in Honduras - funded in part by the United States - which gives street kids not only food and safety but a chance for a better life without, crossing the border.
Video

Video 'Fab Lab' Igniting Revolution in Kenya

The University of Nairobi’s Science and Technology Park is banking on 3-D prototyping to spark a manufacturing revolution in the country. Lenny Ruvaga has more for from Nairobi's so-called “FabLab” for VOA.
Video

Video Gazans in Shelled School Sought Shelter

Israel's air and ground assault against Hamas-led fighters in Gaza has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes, seeking safety. But safe places are hard to find, as VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jabaliya.
Video

Video Rapid Spread of Ebola in West Africa Prompts Global Alert

Across West Africa, health officials are struggling to keep up with what the World Health Organization describes as the worst ebola outbreak on record. The virus has killed hundreds of people this year. U.S. President Barack Obama and other world leaders are watching the developments closely as they weigh what actions, if any, are needed to help contain the disease.
Video

Video Michelle Obama: Young Africans Need to Embrace Women's Rights

U.S. first lady Michelle Obama urged some of Africa's best and brightest to advocate for women's rights in their home countries. As VOA's Pam Dockins explains, Obama spoke to some 500 participants of the Young African Leaders Initiative, a six-week U.S.-based training and development program.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.
Video

Video Study: Latino Students Most Segregated in California

Even though legal school segregation ended in the United States 60 years ago, one study finds segregation still occurs in the U.S. based on income and race. The University of California Los Angeles Civil Rights Project finds that students in California are more segregated by race than ever before, especially Latinos. Elizabeth Lee reports for VOA from Los Angeles.

AppleAndroid