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

Video One Year After Thai Coup, No End in Sight for Military Rule

Since carrying out the May 22, 2014 coup, the general has retired from the military but is still firmly in charge More

Goodbye, New York

This is what the fastest-growing big cities in America have in common More

Job-Seeking Bangladeshis Risk Lives to Find Work

The number of Bangladeshi migrants on smugglers’ boats bound for Southeast Asian countries has soared in the past two years 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.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs