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Troubles at the sushi bar: Activists target Nobu in Los Angeles

June 8, 2009 |  5:29 pm

Nobu 

High-end sushi chain Nobu probably hasn't heard the last of Greenpeace, which has extended its campaign against Nobu Matsuhisa's namesake restaurants to the West Coast.

Greenpeace said it sent protestors to the Nobu on La Cienega Boulevard on Friday to press the restaurant to stop serving bluefin tuna, which environmentalists have identified as perilously overfished. Protestors made reservations and posed as diners to engage waiters and managers in conversations "to educate them about the imperiled bluefin." 

Greenpeace senior markets campaigner Casson Trenor was among the protesters. "We told the manager that our point was to communicate directly to the management that their actions regarding bluefin tuna and their flagging stocks were not acceptable," Trenor said. He said that protesters were asked to leave and did so peacefully, leaving tips for their servers. "We weren't there to cause any major disturbances."

Nobu's Los Angeles publicist would not comment, and Nobu general manager Justin Wyborn was not available. A spokeswoman at Nobu New York also was not available.

Similar protests have been staged in New York and London.

Nobu certainly isn't the only Japanese restaurant serving bluefin -- hon maguro in Japanese -- which is one of the most popular fish for sushi and sashimi. It is on Seafood Watch's "avoid" list.  

But Nobu "is probably the most influential international sushi chain in the world," said Jane Kochersperger, Greenpeace media officer. "Because they are innovators, we're hoping that moving Nobu to more sustainable policies has a ripple effect in the food world."

-- Betty Hallock

Photo by Christine House / For The Times

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