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

US Imposes Sanctions on Alleged Honduran Drug Gang

Treasury department alleges Los Valles group is responsible for smuggling tens of thousands of kilograms of cocaine into US each month More

At 91, Marvel Creator Stan Lee Continues to Expand his Universe

Company's chief emeritus hopes to interest new generation of children in superheroes of all shapes and sizes by publishing content across multiple media platforms More

Photogallery New Drug Protects Against Virus in Ebola Family

Study by researchers at University of Texas Medical Branch, Tekmira Pharmaceuticals is first looking at drug's effectiveness after onset of symptoms 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.
African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebolai
X
George Putic
August 20, 2014 8:57 PM
While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ferguson Calls For Justice as Anger, Violence Grips Community

Violence, anger and frustration continue to grip the small St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Missouri. Protests broke out after a white police officer fatally shot an unarmed black teenager on August 9. The case has sparked outrage around the nation and prompted the White House to send U.S. Attorney Eric Holder to the small community of just over 20,000 people. VOA’s Mary Alice Salinas has more from Ferguson.
Video

Video Beheading Of US Journalist Breeds Outrage

U.S. and British authorities have launched an investigation into an Islamic State video showing the beheading of kidnapped American journalist James Foley by a militant with a British accent. The extremist group, which posted the video on the Internet Tuesday, said the murder was revenge for U.S. airstrikes on militant positions in Iraq - and has threatened to execute another American journalist it is holding. Henry Ridgwell has more from London.
Video

Video Family Robots - The Next Big Thing?

Robots that can help us with daily chores like cooking and cleaning are a long way off, but automatons that serve as family companions may be much closer. Researchers in the United States, France, Japan and other countries are racing to build robots that can entertain and perform some simpler tasks for us. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As the Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities from pro-Russian separatists, residents are getting a chance to rebuild their lives. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the town of Kramatorsk in Donetsk province, where a sense of fear is still in the air, and distrust of the government in Kyiv still runs deep.
Video

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improving

The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video China Targets Overseas Assets of Corrupt Officials

As China presses forward with its anti-graft effort, authorities are targeting corrupt officials who have sent family members and assets overseas. The efforts have stirred up a debate at home on exactly how many officials take that route and how likely it is they will be caught. Rebecca Valli has this report.
Video

Video Leading The Fight Against Islamic State, Kurds Question Iraqi Future

Western countries including the United States have begun arming the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq to aid their battle against extremist Sunni militants from the Islamic State. But there are concerns that a heavily-armed Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG, might seek to declare independence and cause the break-up of the Iraqi state. As Henry Ridgwell reports from London, the KRG says it will only seek greater autonomy from Baghdad.
Video

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

In some Kenyan communities, female genital mutilation remains a rite of passage. But activists are pushing back, with education for girls and with threats of punishment those who perform the circumcision. Mohammed Yusuf looks at the practice in the rural eastern community of Tharaka-Nithi.

AppleAndroid