How Sushi Represents the Intersection of Agricultural Law and Policy
Harrisburg Web Correspondent and Keith Sealing - Published: September 2, 2010
Sushi400pxHarrisburg Dean of Students Keith Sealing, a long-time sushi fanatic, hosted the semster’s first Policy and Pizza in the Pit event on Tuesday, August 31, 2010. His talk was entitled “Terror at the Sushi Bar: The Ecological Disaster on the tip of your Chopsticks.”

Dean Sealing’s presentation contained informative facts on sushi along with how it related to environmental law and international trade. He described the choices one makes at the sushi bar or the supermarket fish counter as representing the intersection of agricultural law and policy, international law and treaties and environmentalism. He also touched on how fishing on the high seas demonstrates the concept of ‘the Tragedy of the Commons,” and why fish farming may not be the answer to world hunger.

Dean Sealing first focused on Tuna, which started out in Japan as cat food. After World War II, “the Americans corrupted the Japanese diet and turned them into tuna fanatics.” Presently, Japan catches 800,000 tons of tuna a year while the United States catches 100,000 tons a year.

In the early 1970’s, the law of the sea for the regulation of fishing was based on the Mare Librum from 1609. This doctrine said that everything in the sea was so abundant that anyone could go and get it. In order to prevent the bluefin tuna from being extinct, ICAT (International Conservation of Atlantic Tuna) was formed. Unfortunately, every single member nation violated the restriction on how much tuna it could catch. Japan pushed for the deregulation of tuna and the United Nations voted in concurrence.

Dean Sealing also focused on salmon. He explained that while farming salmon seemed to be a great idea at first, it actually makes no sense at all. It takes around three pounds of other fish to feed one pound of salmon. These farmed salmon are genetically different from wild salmon. They have been selectively bred and are a threat to the remaining wild population when they escape into the ocean (which millions do each year). In fact, these farmed Salmon are known as “Frankenfish.” They are the first genetically modified animal and are kept sterile so there is no chance of multiplying. Currently there is no process in place for regulating genetically modified animals.

Dean Sealing described the choices one makes at the sushi bar or the supermarket fish counter as representing the intersection of agricultural law and policy, international law and treaties and environmentalism. He discussed how fishing on the high seas demonstrates the concept of ‘the Tragedy of the Commons,” and why fish farming may not be the answer to world hunger

It is predicted by 2050 there will be no sushi fish in the wild other than squid.

For more information, see Dean Sealing’s blog.