Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Jiro Dreams of Sushi: Food for Thought

While there was no legal aspect to this movie, this documentary about a Japanese restaurant in a Tokyo subway station left an impression on me. Briefly, it is really about the 85 year old founder of the restaurant, which has three Michelin stars. What shines through is the commitment of Jiro. But, here are a few things about the movie that struck a chord:

1. Jiro and his son noted that it was getting harder to find good fish. That while in the "olden days" finding fine tuna was not difficult, it was now very hard to do so.

2. That since Jiro had opened his restaurant--some fish species had "disappeared." In about 50 years or so. Jiro notes that soon tuna may also disappear. But, while he has managed to find substitutes for the other species, there may simply be no substitute for tuna.

3. Jiro and his son attributed the loss of species implicitly to over comsumption and indiscriminate fishing. They noted that unlike in the "olden days" when sushi was a delicacy and a treat in Japan, and little known abroad, it was now sold as fast food in restaurants on food carousels. That a taste for sushi has now captured the world.

They noted that in light of the high demand fishermen caught very young tuna. This practice produced low quality fish (for sushi purposes) and also did not give fishstock time to rejuvenate.

Why were they so concerned? Because, without sustainable fishing, there would be no sushi. No restaurant.Their solution, which resonated throughout the movie, was one of modesty and commitment. It is worth watching.

The documentary also brought to mind the Southern Bluefin Tuna dispute, in which the Japanese government claimed the right to conduct experimental fishing and which resulted in the matter being submitted to the International Tribunal on Law of the Seas. The details of that dispute can be found here. What has happened since? I am not entirely sure, except that the Parties decided to resolve it through diplomatic channels. I am still looking into this issue and will report back if I come across any new information. Do let me know if you have any thoughts or leads on the matter.




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