When I think of Japan, with its quiet, reserved manner, impeccably manicured shrubs, hedges and lawns, minimalist interiors, and obsessively clean neighborhoods and streets, I’m forever baffled by the stark duality of nature that seems strangely and inherently woven into its otherwise mild-mannered culture. For years now Japan has exploited loopholes in the international whale ban to relentlessly slaughter whales, dolphins, and anything else they deem justifiable to quench their never-ending blood lust for creatures of the sea.
And so it comes as no surprise that the celebrity sushi restaurant Nobu (named after its founder Japanese chef Nobu Matsuhisa), with 24 outlets worldwide from Honolulu to Hong Kong, continues to exercise Japan’s so-called “cultural prerogative”of sociopathic carnage in the oceans by serving critically endangered bluefin tuna. What makes this whole event even more despicable is the cheap, shoddy attempt at justifying an irresponsible act with a disclaimer printed on the menu:
Bluefin is environmentally challenged. Please ask your server for an alternative. (And only 2 of the 24 Nobu restaurants even have the disclaimer printed on their menus).
This bogus disclaimer is nothing short of a demonstration in intellectual fraud, or as Jay Rainer calls it, “indefensible idiocy”. Additionally, bluefin tuna is not “environmentally challenged”it’s “critically-endangered”.
Nobu’s staff even participated in a sleazy cover-up when “Greenpeace investigators were told by Nobu serving staff in London that their tuna was not bluefin..[DNA] tests on samples smuggled out of the restaurants proved otherwise”.
“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.
According to the World Wildlife Fund, unless the bluefin tuna fishery closes entirely, the fish will be functionally extinct in 3 years. Giles Bartlett, WWF senior policy told The Independent: “They shouldn’t sell endangered species. They should change their menu to incorporate a fish that’s sustainable and not one that’s critically endangered.”
Everyone in the restaurant business (including Gordon Ramsay) knows bluefin is critically threatened and virtually all chefs and restaurants refuse to serve it. The temptation is too great for some wealthy consumers and for sellers it’s all about money. One bluefin tuna on the Japanese market sells for more than £60,000, and Nobu’s UK branches in London’s Park Lane and Berkeley Street, sell bluefin dishes for £32 each.
“It’s amazing that they’re [Nobu] still selling it,” said Charles Clover, who authored the book, The End of the Line: How Overfishing Is Changing the World and What We Eat.
“Tom Aikens, the Michelin-starred restaurateur,” reports The Independent, “said bluefin was probably one of Nobu’s three best-selling fish and its withdrawal would hit the chain’s profits hard.
Nobu’s New York-based managing partner Richard Notar claims “he would like to take bluefin off the menu, but the move was being resisted by his Japanese chefs”. Who’s running the show, the owners or the chefs? It must be those Benihana knives.
“The Telegraph, The Independent, The Daily Mail and This is London carried the story…all mentioning Charles Clover’s book and the film,” writes The End Of The Line Blog. “This is London followed up their coverage with an opinion piece by Charles Clover, where he said: ‘[Nobu] is participating in the extermination of a species. And when his celeb clientele finally understand that this is wrong, they will turn their backs on his restaurants, never to return.'”