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September 8, 2008

A Toro Mess

Three of London’s Nobu restaurants, a chain which is partly owned by Robert De Niro, have been secretly serving endangered Atlantic bluefin tuna, Charles Clover reports in the Telegraph. Bluefin tuna belly meat, or toro, is prized by many sushi chefs for its high fat content.Nobu is apparently patronized by celebrities such as Madonna, Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio. In other words, a very high profile place has been serving a mislabeled endangered species — who knows how many others are doing the exact same thing.While I would normally send you to our seafood guide and tell you to look out for bluefin, this article speaks to the larger, more complicated problem of how to place the blame. Who’s at fault here? Not the consumers, they were misinformed. Was it the restaurant? The fishmonger? The fishermen? The government who makes the regulations? A global cultural apathy about the source of our seafood? Or some combination of the above?The article’s author, Charles Clover, a friend of Oceana’s, has a documentary coming out next year, The End of the Line, based on his book by the same name. It explores the disastrous effects of overfishing and will help answer some of the questions raised by stories like this one. I’m sure if it was endangered seal or sea lion that they were serving, this would never fly. But bluefin tuna just lacks that whiskered appeal, doesn’t it? Image: Keith Ellenbogen/Oceana