Japan Meets Maine in New Sashimi Project

Last year, we introduced a new initiative to build local markets for sashimi-grade Gulf of Maine Seafood. In 2017, we made new progress on this initiative by hosting workshops and producing new training materials.


The term sashimi-grade refers to high quality fish that can be consumed raw. Achieving this standard of quality requires specific handling techniques that most fishermen in the U.S. are unfamiliar with. While local fish is available, there are key differences in handling practices between Japanese fishermen and our local fleet. That's why leading sushi chefs pay top dollar for fish imported from Japan.

In 2017, we furthered our efforts to build a local sashimi-grade market by working with fishermen, chefs, restaurateurs, and distributors to support these regional markets and offer training workshops in Japanese handling practices. These practices include the ike jime method, a Japanese fish killing method that many high-end sushi restaurants require.

One of the expert trainers for these workshops is seafood quality handling expert and fish purveyor Mika Higurashi. Mika’s perspective has been hugely valuable, and she and Sustainable Seafood Program Manager Jen Levin continue to work closely together.

“I believe proper catch handling can bring American fish industries to the next level,” said Mika. “There is a huge opportunity here to build demand for more local species while also increasing their value. Proper catch handling including the ike jime method, onboard icing and bleeding, and careful packaging can all greatly affect fish quality. I am excited to be part of this initiative and look forward to working with similar minded people.”

Mika joined us recently to share her passion for this work in a Sea State Lecture here in the lab. Hear more from Mika by watching her recorded presentation, Making the Grade: Leading the Way for Sashimi-Grade Seafood:


As part of this initiative, we also developed a training video, which we’ve shared with interested members of the local seafood industry.

The simple training video was produced by Michelle Brown, another member our sustainable seafood team.

“This video captures the essence of what we’re trying to do with this project,” said Michelle. “It introduces the concept to fishermen with a resource they can go back to again and again. For those who attend the workshop, it’s a great reminder, but it’s also a perfect tool for folks who are just starting to explore this opportunity for their businesses.”



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