No, I haven’t been able to kick the sushi habit completely; though I no longer order any kind of nigiri or fish donburi. Unfortunately (?) I realized that you’d have to pry the California rolls out of my cold, dead hands… after all, it was one of the first kinds of sushi I fell in love with as a kid. (Not the first, though– the real gateway drug was a friend’s homemade gimbap, a similar Korean dish, that she’d often bring to school. As an aside, gimbap doesn’t often feature fish at all, instead using fillings like egg, pickled vegetables, cooked meats, etc.)
Anyways, as you probably know, the main ingredient in California rolls is the imitation crab. So I got to wondering–and worrying about–what kinds of fish and seafood go into the making of imitation crab, called kamikama in Japan. I did a search, expecting the worst, but found some very heartening information instead. Apparently kamikama is made pretty exclusively from Alaska Pollock, which is not only sustainably fished, but is a very labor-aware industry overall.
From Seafood Health Facts:
The Alaskan Pollock fishery is highly regulated and falls under the jurisdiction of the federal government through the National Marine Fisheries Service and the Northern Pacific Fishery Management Council. Annual catch limits and seasons are set for Pollock fisheries. Limits are also set for bycatch species that may be caught unintentionally when fishing for Pollock. Many Pollock fishermen have formed cooperatives to more efficiently utilize the fishery and limit bycatch of unintended fish species. The eastern Bering Sea and Aleutian Island Pollock stock were certified as sustainable by the Marine Stewardship Council in 2005. According to NOAA FishWatch, no overfishing is occurring on Pollock stocks.
Greenpeace released an article back in ’08, claiming that the industry was on the verge of collapse with stocks cut in half at the time. But if the NOAA is to be trusted, then things have seen major reforms since then. Which gives me some small hope for the fishing industry as a whole, I suppose.
I guess for now, consider imitation crab, and Alaska Pollock, safe to eat.