Conservation & Science

Chefs worldwide speak out to save Pacific bluefin tuna

Leading chefs on five continents have pledged to keep Pacific bluefin tuna off their menus until there’s effective international action to manage the fishery and reverse a precipitous decline in the population.

Chef Alex Atala of Brazil: “We are not living within our means when it comes to Pacific bluefin tuna.”

Nearly 200 prominent chefs and culinary leaders from around the world—including Alex Atala of Brazil, James Beard Award nominee Michael Cimarusti of the United States and Annabel Langbein of New Zealand—say Pacific Rim nations must act immediately to recover Pacific bluefin tuna.

Bluefin tunas are among the planet’s most iconic and prized fish. In recent decades, global demand for Pacific bluefin tuna has driven the population down to a critical level—just 2.6 percent of its historic abundance, significantly lower than those of the two other bluefin tuna species, Atlantic and Southern bluefin tunas, and lower than all other assessed tuna species.

The chef pledge comes as fishing nations charged with securing the future of Pacific bluefin tuna prepare to meet in Busan, South Korea from August 28 to September 1, to craft a new recovery plan in the face of growing international criticism that the current plan falls far short of what’s needed.

The time for action

Michael Cimarusti, USA: “I cannot in good conscience serve Pacific bluefin tuna. ” Photo by Noe Montes

Cimarusti, chef-owner of celebrated Los Angeles restaurant Providence, says this apex ocean predator is truly at a crossroads.

“Chefs have an obligation to offer seafood dishes that promote a healthy, diverse living ocean,” he said. “I cannot in good conscience serve Pacific bluefin tuna. There will be time to enjoy it again when their numbers are back. And that will take an immediate, strong international commitment to better manage the fishery.”

Atala, whose São Paulo restaurant D.O.M. is ranked among finest in the world, said: “In my kitchen, I celebrate indigenous food. And with that comes a commitment to a fundamental philosophy: You live within your means. We are not living within our means when it comes to Pacific bluefin tuna. We are emptying the ocean of these magnificent fish. The world has an obligation, right now, to take action to allow them to recover. We owe it to future generations.”

A challenge to nations

Over 190 chefs and culinary leaders around the world have signed a pledge not to serve or promote the consumption of this valuable and imperiled species until the nations in charge of its management take meaningful action.

“The culinary community has a key interest in the recovery of all bluefin tunas, and particularly Pacific bluefin tuna,” the chefs stated. “Preserving healthy populations of bluefin tunas in the ocean is a prerequisite to bringing these delicious fish back to the menu.”

International fisheries management authorities will meet in South Korea starting August 28, to discuss creating a science-based management plan to recover Pacific bluefin tuna. Photo courtesy NOAA

At the Aquarium, we’ve been engaged in the conservation of Pacific bluefin tuna for decades. Our Seafood Watch program has long rated it as a species to avoid, due to overfishing. For nearly two decades, our scientific research team has been studying and tagging the fish, which make epic trans-Pacific migrations. They have recently found new evidence supporting the conclusion that science-based management—on both sides of the Pacific—is critical to the species’ survival.

Businesses lead by example

Chefs know that without sustainable management of the Pacific bluefin fishery, these delicious fish won’t be around for future generations to enjoy. Heads of the food-service industry echo their concerns.

“It is time for governments to follow the lead of the private sector, fulfill their commitments, adhere to the science, and recover and maintain Pacific bluefin tuna at a sustainable level,” said Maisie Ganzler, chief strategy and brand officer for Palo Alto, Calif.-based Bon Appétit Management Company, an award-winning leader in sustainable food-service management.

“All of the progress that businesses have made contrasts dramatically with the complete inaction and lack of ambition by nations to halt the precipitous decline of Pacific bluefin tuna,” Ganzler said. “If they were accountable the way we are in the private sector, they would be out of business.”

Pacific bluefin tuna can grow as big as lions and travel as fast as gazelles. Photo by Monterey Bay Aquarium/Randy Wilder

Annabel Langbein, a globally renowned culinary author and television show host, recalls: “I grew up eating fresh fish my grandfather caught with hook and line. Sadly, today many of our favorite fish species are under real pressure—with Pacific bluefin tuna at the top of the list. To ensure our kids and their kids will still be able to enjoy the pleasures of fishing and fresh seafood, we must act to support sustainable fishing practices.”

It’s a personal issue for her, because some Pacific bluefin tuna feed and spawn in the waters of her home country, New Zealand. “And they are important to so many cultures,” she adds. “I call upon my colleagues around the Pacific to speak out now for these incredible fish.”

Other chefs and culinary leaders endorsing the pledge include Hawaii’s Ed Kenney, Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger of Los Angeles, Andre Ahn of Brazil, along with Rick Bayless of Chicago, Virginia Willis of Atlanta, Nancy Silverton of Los Angeles, Dan Barber of New York, and Rick Moonen of Las Vegas.

“In the Hawaiian language, the word aloha represents a spirit—of love, of peace, of respect and mercy,” Kenney said. “When followed by ‘oe, it means goodbye. Let’s have aloha for Pacific bluefin tuna, the magnificent and powerful spirits that share a vast ocean with us—without saying aloha ‘oe.”

Here’s the full list of chefs and culinary leaders who have signed the Pacific bluefin tuna pledge (last updated August 22, 2017). Lead signatories are listed in bold.

  1. Andre Ahn, Chef, Restaurante Karú, Brazil
  2. Alex Atala, Chef, D.O.M., Brazil
  3. Michael Cimarusti, Chef/Owner, Providence, Connie & Ted’s, USA
  4. Susan Feniger, Chef/Owner, Border Grill Restaurant Group, USA
  5. Ed Kenney, Chef/Owner, Town, Kaimuki Superette, Mud Hen Water, Mahina & Sun’s, USA
  6. Annabel Langbein, Al media, New Zealand
  7. Mary Sue Milliken, Chef/Owner, Border Grill Restaurant Group, USA
  8. Ali Bahmad, Chef, WelTec School of Hospitality, New Zealand
  9. Greg Baker, Chef and Owner, The Refinery/Fodder & Shine, USA
  10. William Dissen, Executive Chef and Owner, The Market Place Restaurant, USA
  11. Hari Pulapaka, Executive Chef and Co-Owner, Cress Restaurant, USA
  12. Matthew Beaudin, Executive Chef, Monterey Bay Aquarium, USA
  13. Virginia Willis, Chef and Content Creator, Virginia Willis Culinary Enterprises, Inc, USA
  14. Jennifer Sherman, General Manager, Chez Panisse, USA
  15. Andrea Reusing, Chef/Owner, Lantern Inc., USA
  16. Sarah Forman, Culinary Manager, Lyon Media Group, USA
  17. Kerry Heffernan, Executive Chef, Grand Banks, Pilot, Island Oyster, Seaworthy, USA
  18. Michael Leviton, Founder, Region Foodworks LLC, USA
  19. Sara Jenkins, Chef/Owner, Nina June, USA
  20. Nathan Lyon, Emmy-nominated Culinary Host, Lyon Media Group, USA
  21. Kevin Fonzo, Chef, The Kevin Fonzo Foundation, USA
  22. Bun Lai, Chef, Miya’s, USA
  23. Jeffrey Deloff, Executive Chef, Threepenny Café, USA
  24. James Baselici, Executive Chef, Waterline Marina Resort, USA
  25. Kristofor Lofgren, CEO, Sustainable Restaurant Group, USA
  26. Cory Schisler, Creative Director, Sustainable Restaurant Group, USA
  27. Chris Paquette, Culinary Director, Bamboo Sushi and Sustainable Restaurant Group, USA
  28. Samuel Monsour, Executive Chef, Preux & Proper, USA
  29. Michael Rosacci, Corporate Chef, Tony’s Markets, USA
  30. Steve Phelps, Chef/Owner, Indigenous, USA
  31. Colin Moody, Executive Chef, Monterey Peninsula Country Club, USA
  32. Rick Bayless, Chef, Frontera, USA
  33. Paul Fehribach, Chef/Owner, Big Jones, USA
  34. Cindy Pawlcyn, Chef/Owner, CP Cooks, USA
  35. Jon Matsubara, Executive Chef, Bloomingdales, USA
  36. Elizabeth Binder, Chef/Owner, Hand-Crafted Catering, USA
  37. Evan Hanczor, Chef/Partner, Egg, USA
  38. Eric Greenspan, Executive Chef/ Owner, The Roof On Wilshire, USA
  39. Kim Muller, Principal, B/O/T/H Consulting, USA
  40. Fedele Bauccio, CEO, Bon Appétit Management Company, USA
  41. Keith Froggett, Chef/Partner, Scaramouche Restaurant and The Glen Tavern, Canada
  42. Bruce Sherman, Chef/Partner, North Pond Restaurant, USA
  43. Lee Anne Wong, Chef/Owner, Koko Head Café, USA
  44. Crystal  Azzarello, Owner, Luna Blu Restaurant, USA
  45. Matthew Bolton, Executive Chef, InterContinental The Clement Monterey, USA
  46. Mark Noguchi, Chef, The Pili Group, USA
  47. Kristine Kidd, Owner/Editor/Writer, Kristinekidd.com, USA
  48. Narsai David, Owner, Narsai’s, USA
  49. Sarah Schafer, Executive Chef, Irving Street Kitchen, USA
  50. Paul Rogalski, Culinary Director, Rouge/ Bistro Rouge, Canada
  51. Patricia Unterman, Chef/Owner, Hayes Street Grill San Francisco, USA
  52. Rochelle Huppin, Entrepreneur, Rosie’s Goods, USA
  53. Cindy Walter, Co-Owner, Passionfish, USA
  54. Ted Walter, Owner, Passionfish, USA
  55. David Rashty, Executive Chef, Babcock Ranch, USA
  56. Sheila Lucero, Executive Chef, Jax Fish House, USA
  57. Michael Frauenheim, Director of Operations, RM Seafood, USA
  58. Travis Flood, Chef/Partner, Pappas Artisanal, USA
  59. Michael Goularte, Executive Chef, Galletto Ristorante, USA
  60. Rick Moonen, Chef/Owner, RM Seafood, USA
  61. Kajsa Alger, Chef/ Owner, Blue Window, USA
  62. Annie Pettry, Executive Chef, Decca, USA
  63. Nyesha J. Arrington, Owner, Arrington LLC, USA
  64. Cesare Casella, Chef, Casella Salumi, USA
  65. Mike Han, Sushi Chef, Mayanoki, USA
  66. Jeffrey Zurofksy, CEO, No Small Plans, LLC, USA
  67. Matthew Dolan, Executive Chef | Partner, Twenty Five Lusk, USA
  68. Nancy Silverton, Restaurant owner, mozza group, USA
  69. Dory Ford, Chef/CEO, AQUA TERRA Culinary, USA
  70. Suzanne Dunaway, Author, France
  71. Matthew Griffin, Chef, Fedora/Bar Sardine, USA
  72. Thomasina Miers, Wahaca, UK
  73. Gay Ayton, Gay Atyon PR, UK
  74. Michael Corrigan, NF Networks, Scotland
  75. Jason Roberts, Poku, Australia
  76. Simon Cato, N/S, England
  77. Nicholas A Chung, Basic Foodgroup LLC, USA
  78. Dave Martin, Chef, Dave’s Homemade, USA
  79. Michael Smith, Chef/Owner, Michael Smith/Extra Virgin, USA
  80. Victor Gielisse, Managing Director, The Culinary Institute of America, USA
  81. Barbara Mourao, Northwell, USA
  82. Allen Susser, Chef, Chef Allen’s, USA
  83. Travis Kight, Chief Executive Chef, SSA, USA
  84. Todd Gray, Chef/Co-owner, Equinonx Restaurant, USA
  85. Ed Roehr, Chef/ Restaurant Owner, Magpie, USA
  86. Lisa Ekus, Owner, The Lisa Ekus Group, USA
  87. Clayton Rollison, Chef/Owner, Lucky Rooster Kitchen + Bar, USA
  88. Jennifer Marshall, General Manager, Monterey Bay Fish Grotto, USA
  89. Nick Leahy, Chef/partner, Saltyard, USA
  90. Adria Blotta, Owner, barbrix, All’Acqua Restaurant & Market Provisions, USA
  91. Dave Caldiero, Corporate Chef, Town Hospitality Group, USA
  92. Tom Douglas, Chef/Restauranteur, Seatown Restaurants, USA
  93. Barb Parrott, General Manager, Dahlia Bakery, USA
  94. Marcos Hernandez, Executive Chef, UC Berkeley Cal Dining, USA
  95. Mary Ferrer, Executive Chef, UC Berkeley, USA
  96. Richard Hoffmann, Executive Chef, Border Grill Mandalay Bay, USA
  97. Susan Wolfla, Chef, MLB, USA
  98. Josiah Citrin, Chef, Melisse Restaurant, USA
  99. Jeremy Fox, Chef, Rustic Canyon, USA
  100. Giovanni Lopez, Executive Chef, Border Grill DTLA, USA
  101. Sean O’Donnell, Executive Chef, University of California Berkeley, USA
  102. Perri Kramer, Marketing & Business Development, The Plant Cafe Organic, USA
  103. Adam Perry Lang, Chef/Owner, APL Restaurant, USA
  104. Taichi Kitamura, Executive Chef, Sushi a Kappo Tamura, USA
  105. Daniel Carlone, Chef, Tom Douglas Restaurants, USA
  106. Annie Andre, Chef, UC Berkeley, USA
  107. Justin Robarge, Executive Chef, Cannery Row Brewing Company, USA
  108. Andy Husbands, Chef, Tremont 647 & The Smoke Shop BBQ, USA
  109. Bridget Charters, Chef Instructor, Tom Douglas Restaurants, USA
  110. Tamara Murphy, Owner/chef, Terra Plata, USA
  111. Lisbet Halvorsen, President, Ravishing Radish Catering, USA
  112. William Whitbeck, Seafood Sales, Taylor Shellfish Farms, USA
  113. Eric Tanaka, Managing Partner, Tom Douglas Restaurants, USA
  114. Daisuke Ueda, Owner, Shabu Shabu Kyoto, USA
  115. Lisa Nakamura, Chef, Gnocchi Bar, USA
  116. Jimmy Schmidt, Chef, FoodShedExchange.com & Innovitality.com, USA
  117. Shota Nakajima, Owner Chef, Adana, USA
  118. Lauren Musladin, General Manager, Tom Douglas Seattle Kitchen, USA
  119. David Lentz, Chef/Owner, The Hungry Cat, USA
  120. Chris Dane, Chef, Spring Chicken, USA
  121. Sam Baxter, Chef, Connie and Ted’s, USA
  122. Gabriela Bignold, Asst Manager, Tom Douglas Restaurant, USA
  123. Ron Askew, Executive Chef, Forest Ridge School of the Sacred Heart, USA
  124. Michael Dei Maggi, Chef of Culinary Innovation, PF Chang’s, USA
  125. Donato Poto, Restaurant owner, Providence, Connie and Ted’s, Cape Seafood and Provisions, USA
  126. Douglas Katz, Owner/Chef, fire food and drink, USA
  127. Steven Satterfield, Executive Chef/Owner, Miller Union, USA
  128. Seth Caswell, Chef, Bar Harbor, USA
  129. Nico Romo, Owner/chef, NICO oyster + seafood, USA
  130. Mitch Lienhard, Chef de Cuisine, Manresa Restaurant, USA
  131. Grant Smillie, Executive Director, EP&LP, USA
  132. Niki, Nakayama, Chef/Owner, n/naka, USA
  133. Brendan McGill, Chef/Owner, Hitchcock Restaurant Group, USA
  134. Ned Bell, Executive Chef , Ocean Wise, Canada
  135. Bryant Ng, Chef/Owner, Cassia, USA
  136. Chris Ono, Chef De Cuisine, Esters Wine shop and bar, USA
  137. Kaoru Kitamura, Engineer, King County
  138. Nigel, Stephens, Executive Sous Chef, Republique, USA
  139. Kim Stodel, Providence restaurant, USA
  140. Sean Barrett, Cofounder, Dock to Dish, USA
  141. Amy Wolf, Sous Chef, Providence Restaurant
  142. Ehder Dominguez, Head Fishmonger, Cape Seafood and Provisions, USA
  143. Jaime Covarrubias, executive chef, Border Grill Forum Shops, USA
  144. Caleb Orth, Head Chef, Belcampo Meat Co, USA
  145. Sharon Park, Sous Chef, Connie & Ted’s, USA
  146. Pierre Denis, Private Chef, Wallis Annenberg, USA
  147. Javier Espinoza, Executive Chef, Lucques Group, USA
  148. Carole Iida-Nakayama, Sous Chef/Co-Owner, n/naka, USA
  149. Dan Barber, chef, Blue Hill, USA
  150. Keith Rhodes, Chef/Proprietor, Catch Restaurant, USA
  151. Roxana Jullapat, Baker, Friends & Family, USA
  152. Hirokazu Tawar, Chef, Kokon LLC, USA
  153. Bill Telepan, Chef, Oceana Restaurant, USA
  154. Keisuke Kobayashi, President, K Corporation, USA
  155. Adam Cherney, Chef de Cuisine, AOC Wine Bar, USA
  156. Steve Infield, General Manager, Belcampo Meat Company, USA
  157. Travis Strickland, Chef, Baltaire, USA
  158. Roger Harris, Managing Director, TABIC, USA
  159. Shiho Yoshikawa, Chef, Sweet Rose Creamery, USA
  160. Jose Martinez, Culinary Director, UC Berkeley, USA
  161. Liam Bonner, General Manager, UC Berkeley, USA
  162. Todd Mitgang, Chef, Crave Fishbar, USA
  163. Brian Owens, Owner, Crave Fishbar, USA
  164. Zahie Tellez, Chef, Platos de Cuchara, Mexico
  165. Hisako Ishikura, Owner, Miyabi Sushi, USA
  166. Elizabeth Falkner, Chef/Author/Artist, Falk Yeah! Productions, USA
  167. Andrew Gruel, Founder, Slapfish, USA, UK, South Korea
  168. Gerard Jesse, Executive chef, Seafood Shack, USA
  169. Edward Kopp, Chef, Unidine, USA
  170. Paul Buchanan, Chef, Primal Alchemy, USA
  171. Seth Freedman, Culinary Director, PeachDish, USA
  172. Sean Knight, Owner, Mustards Grill & Cindy’s Backstreet Kitchen, USA
  173. Crisi Echiverri, Manager-Owner, Providence Restaurant, USA
  174. Timothy Hollingsworth, Chef Owner, Otium, USA
  175. Bob Statler, Chef/Owner, Food Island, USA
  176. Brook Browning, Assistant Manager, Tom Douglas Restaurants, USA
  177. Adrienne Chamberlain, Chef/General Manager, Tom Douglas Restaurants, USA
  178. Jacob Cureton, Executive Chef, Atchafalaya, USA
  179. Edward Lee, Chef, 610 Magnolia, USA
  180. Christopher Nye, Executive Chef, Spoon and Stable, USA
  181. Jonathan Dempsey, Executive Chef, Oregon Zoo, USA
  182. Adam Danforth, Butcher, Danforth Butchery, USA
  183. Michael Beers, Corporate Executive Chef, New England Hotel Group, USA
  184. Christian Page, Chef, Cassell’s Hamburgers, USA
  185. David Kinch, Owner/Executive Chef, Manresa Restaurant, USA
  186. Dana Honn, Owner/Executive Chef, Carmo, USA
  187. Mark Dommen, Chef/Partner, One Market Restaurant, USA
  188. Justin Dean, Owner, Madhouse Vinegar Co., USA
  189. Corie Brown, Co-Founder, Zester Media, USA
  190. Brandon Harpster, Executive Chef, Single Barrel, USA
  191. Chris Kenny, Head Chef, Necker Island, British Virgin Islands
  192. Paul Froggatt, Executive Chef, Huka Lodge, New Zealand
  193. Derek Wagner, Chef/Owner, Nicks on Broadway, USA
  194. Todd McGuire, Program Manager, 11th Hour Racing, USA
  195. Drew Deckman, Chef, DECKMAN’S en el Mogor, Mexico
  196. Steve Samson, Chef/Owner, Sotto Restaurant, USA

 

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