Restaurant featuring certified sustainable seafood opens in Tokyo

A restaurant in Tokyo’s Setagaya Ward is specializing in seafood certified by the Marine Stewardship Council and the Aquaculture Stewardship Council. The symbols of these certification programs are featured prominently on the restaurant’s menu and website.

The restaurant, named Blue, which was opened in May, is Japan's only independent seafood restaurant to serve MSC-certified seafood. The name is intended to conjure up thoughts of the “Blue Seafood Guide” put out by Sailors for the Sea Japan – a pamphlet similar to the Seafood Watch sustainable choices guide produced in the U.S. by the Monterey Bay Aquarium. 

The owner, Daisuke Matsui, previously operated Totally Searoll Club in Fukui Prefecture using MSC-certified products, but closed the restaurant after a year in business. 

Blue’s menu is mostly in a Western style, and includes stir-fried shrimp with sauce and paprika, fish and chips with two kinds of sauce, Buffalo shrimp, bonito with yogurt sauce and balsamic vinegar, bonito poké, Hokkaido scallops and asparagus with a grapefruit marinade, and tiger shrimp “ahijo” (Spanish-style garlic shrimp),. Octopus and potato stew (taco-jaga) is the rare uncertified menu item. 

Tokyo-based Maruha Nichiro Corp., one of the largest seafood companies in the world, supplies certified seafood to Blue. The company is increasing its MSC-certified business, announcing in November last year that it will launch full-scale trading in MSC-certified Hokkaido scallops. 

Though Hokkaido scallops have been MSC-certified since 2013, few MSC-labeled scallops are exported because most go to China or the U.S.A., where the label is less demanded than in Europe. However, most processing plants did not have a certified hazard and critical control points (HACCP) inspection system in place, which is a requirement for many European Union buyers.

Additionally, Maruha Nichiro features MSC-certified shrimp and chikuwa.


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