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Salmon savers

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Articles - November/December 2013
Monday, October 28, 2013

Kristofor Lofgren
Sustainable Salmon, Please

1113 Salmon 02
Bamboo Sushi owner Kristofor Lofgren
// Photo by Joseph Eastburn

Before Kristofor Lofgren opened his first Bamboo Sushi restaurant in southeast Portland in 2008, he noticed a disclaimer on other restaurants’ menus that said something along the lines of “Whenever possible, we source sustainably.”

“To me, saying ‘whenever possible’ negates everything that comes after that,” Lofgren says. “We decided to say that we only ever source sustainably, because that’s a statement that means something.” Five years later, Bamboo Sushi has two thriving Portland locations following that practice to the letter by sourcing sustainable seafood from around the world, largely direct from fishermen themselves. The restaurant only sources seafood that meets strict sustainability guidelines set up by the Monterey Bay Aquarium and the Blue Ocean Institute, which help businesses and consumers purchase seafood that’s fished or farmed in environmentally friendly ways. Among many green certifications, the restaurant became the first sushi eatery in the world to be certified by the Marine Stewardship Council.

Bamboo is able to source some of its roughly 50,000 pounds of seafood each year here in Oregon, including some albacore, pink shrimp, oysters and sea urchins. Oregon salmon, however, has yet to work its way to the top of Bamboo’s list.

1.9 million: Pounds of salmon landed by commercial fishers in Oregon in 2012

“We get some salmon in Oregon,” Lofgren says, “but it’s not as consistent as the supply we get from Alaska” in terms of quantity and quality. That said, Lofgren’s big- picture view is that more and more purveyors demanding sustainable seafood will lead to better fishing practices and healthier supply chains all over the globe, including in Oregon. Already, he says, Bamboo Sushi has helped inspire big-time players like Whole Foods Market and even McDonald’s to up their commitment to sustainability. Throw in the possibility of improved Oregon salmon runs in the future and Lofgren is encouraged.

“We would love to source as locally as we can,” he says. “We are excited by the salmon runs returning this year, and if we end up seeing a multi-year recovery, we will be more than happy to be out there supporting that.”



+2 #1 Great new issue!Guest 2013-10-30 23:40:47
Great new issue focused on salmon!

I’m surprised, however, that little mention was made of the impact on those who enjoy recreational salmon fishing.

After all, larger runs means more fun for tens of thousands of Oregonians each year, and a lot more revenue for small towns on the Oregon coast, along the Columbia River, etc.

I certainly didn’t mind spending money this past Saturday. In return? I have a great day of memories, including the 15 minutes it took to reel in the largest salmon I've ever caught.

Will I spend even more time and money salmon fishing again next summer? You bet!
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0 #2 writerGuest 2013-10-31 17:17:31
Thanks much for the comment, and glad to hear about your catch! We did touch on the aspects you're talking about in the "Slowly Rising" section about the economic benefits to tribes and small towns out along the Columbia, and also in the "Ranching and Restoring Together" section. And we'll of course be keeping an eye on future returns and the impacts they have on Oregon's angling towns and businesses. Jon Bell
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0 #3 RE: Salmon saversGuest 2013-11-02 19:10:05
This piece also points out the need to maintain a viable commercial salmon fishery so that people who don't sport fish also have access to fresh local salmon of the highest quality such as Lofgren wants to serve, thus maintaining a constituency for salmon recovery above and beyond sport anglers, which I am one of. Gill netting can be made less damaging to T&E stocks while still allowing some commercial harvest.
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