The New York Times Magazine did a piece on the overfishing of bluefin tuna populations to near extinction and cited a correspondence that Ritchie Notar, co-owner of sushi hotspot chain Nobu, had with Greenpeace in 2008.
He offerred what has to be the most historically inaccurate or intentionally deceitful defense for continuing to serve the nearly endangered fish. He basically said he doesn’t want to disrespect Japan’s “centuries” old traditions:
The Japanese have relied on tuna and the bounties of the sea as part of their culture and history for centuries. We are absolutely appreciative of your goals and efforts within your cause, but it goes far beyond just saying that we can just take what has now all of a sudden been declared an ‘endangered’ species off the menu. It has to do with custom, heritage and behavior.
Well that’s culturally sensitive of Nobu, except for one thing, it’s not true. Sushi historian Michiyo Murata notes that tuna wasn’t incorporated into the sushi tradition till about 170 years ago and historically, red meat fish was looked down upon as poor people’s food compared to the more favorable white fish varieties.