New project makes the popular chain the first of its kind to utilize 100 percent of the fish they acquire.

Among the various conveyor-belt sushi chains across Japan, Kurazushi is one of the most prominent, thanks in part to their creative offerings like sushi rice cola, sushi rice cola shaved ice, and sushi rice cola shaved ice flavored cream puffs.

This time, Kurazushi is serving up perhaps their most daring creation yet: salmon and amberjack sushi!

▼ Oh. Uh, that’s cool. I guess?

That might not sound so amazing until you understand how it arrives on the belt (next to a slice of blueberry cheesecake and the occasional Go-Pro).

Typically, these fish are caught in the ocean and then sent to one of Kurazushi’s processing facilities where they are deboned and cut up before being delivered to a nearby Kurazushi restaurant for the final touches.

However, this standard operation on such a large scale is quite wasteful resulting in 600 tons of unusable meat, bone, and other scraps every year. The challenge for Kurazushi is to find a way to cost-effectively handle this enormous pile of fish entrails.

Meanwhile, Japan’s fish farmers are also facing hard times. The skyrocketing cost of feed is making it hard for them to offer their aquaculture fish at competitive prices. If only there were 600 tons of stuff lying around somewhere that could be cheaply acquired and used for feed….

After someone connected those two dots, the so-called “Sakana 100% Project” was born as a joint effort by Kurazushi and the aquaculture industry to make some fishy lemonade out of their respective lemons.

The way the Sakana 100% Project works is simple: First, a fish is caught in the ocean and sent to processing. After the choice meat is removed, the remaining parts are then converted into feed which can be given to farmed fish. The farmed fish are then grown and sold back to Kurazushi, who in turn sell back the unusable parts as feed again for future generations of sushi.

▼ The figure-nine of life at Kurazushi

In other words Kurazushi is recycling its fish and thus using all of its parts with nothing going to waste.

For many reading this news, the concept of feeding fish to the same species of fish may sound alarming. It was certainly on the minds of many Japanese people upon learning about the Sakana 100% Project.

“Fish are cannibalistic by nature, so it should be okay.”
“Isn’t this what caused mad cow disease?”
“What is this, Xenogears?!”
“I think it’s a great idea and will make the industry more environmentally friendly.”
“It’s probably safer than fish from the ocean and all the chemicals they’ve been exposed to.”

It is hard to say if this process is totally safe, but unlike cattle, most fish are either carnivorous or omnivorous and known to engage in cannibalism. It’s at least a different set of circumstances, but still can’t help but bring up unpleasant thoughts of BSE in people’s minds.

Trying to overcome this stigma will be up to Kurazushi if they want to really get their Sakana 100% Project into full swing with a wider variety of seafood choices. Hopefully it is safe and if so, they can convince people of it, because it certainly looks like a great way to help reduce the burden on fish populations in the ocean, especially in large-scale enterprises like conveyor-belt sushi restaurants.

Source: Mainichi Shimbun, Kinisoku
Images: PR Wire