SAN FRANCISCO (CBS) – Bay Area sushi bars and other restaurants that rely heavily on Japanese seafood are facing shipping delays and supply shortages following last week’s earthquake and tsunami.

At Umi on Potrero Hil, owner and executive chef Stewart Chen has a large variety of fish from the Japanese markets.

KCBS’ Holly Quan Reports:

“We have sea bass, tako (octopus), tobiuo (flying fish),” said Chen. “All this is from Japan, from all over Japan.”

About half the fish Chen serves comes from Japan, with the other half from local markets and fisheries.

But he’s already starting to see the impact of the earthquake on overseas deliveries.

“There are a lot of delays, especially the fish that might be a special request. They have been saying, we don’t have that,” he said.

Umi is one of several sushi restaurants in the Bay Area that is expecting long-lasting effects from the disaster in Japan.

But it’s not only restaurants that are suffering. I Love Blue Sea, a San Francisco sustainable seafood provider, said they’ve already seen a drop in the availability of the popular Hokkaido scallops.

It’s thought that what product is available in Japan will be saved for restaurants in that country, and restaurants and distributors in the United States could see lower quality seafood being shipped overseas.

(© 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

Comments (132)
  1. Kathleen Chung-Lee says:

    Great.. =( now Sushi is gonna be even more expensive.

    1. chase says:

      The cost of sushi doesn’t bother me as much as the prospect of eating radioactive fish. All fish imported from Japanese waters should now be checked for radiation levels, BEFORE shipping and AFTER arriving on our shores.

      1. icetrout says:

        If it smells like fish eat all you wish 🙂

    2. RedGerry says:

      Sad selfish people…. thousands dead, even more missing and your worrying about your sushi supplies. Frankly you disgust me, please stay in San francisco so the rest of us humans know where to avoid. Attitudes like this are far more poisonous than any radiation…

      1. Jedì Chrome says:

        Yes, because worrying about your business and taking care of your family is selfish. /eyeroll

      2. Harp says:

        I think the article is explaining the economic effects we will face here as a result of the disasters in Japan. Sushi supplies are just one of the first markets to get hit considering the shelf life of the product. You can expect to hear about a lot more industry being effected in the days to come. I don’t believe if its selfish, more of an observation. Sushi bars may not be hurting to the degree that the Japanese people are, but their livelihood is in danger and you can’t just discount that because the disaster over there is bigger.4

      3. Kristine N. Stone says:

        Amen! What is this focus on sushi when so many have died and countless are suffering. We don’t want radio active fish, what lame ass comemnt is that? Frankly, these people make me sick to my stomach!

      4. More FIsh in Da Sea says:

        I agree. The whole point of this article isn’t about saving businesses or jobs. There are frikkin fish in waters all over the world. Get yer supply elsewhere until Japan can recover.

        In the meantime, why not think of the millions of people suffering, starving and freezing, instead of a handful of restaurants in the Bay Area and whether or not an interruption of kanpachi and toro shipments is gonna put a sushi restaurant’s staff on the unemployment roles. What a waste of an article.

      5. Joe Mamma says:

        What will the rest of the world miss when San Fransisco slides into the ocean during their next earthquake? Probably nothing.

      6. kate says:


      7. Wayne says:

        Agree totally. Awww the next thing you know the wine and cheese will be contaminated.

      8. Doug Anderson says:

        Life still has to go on…….It is very tragic….but so is not being able to earn a living because of a product supply problem…..Ill eat the glowing sushi, IF thats all ya got! Yummmm….. Raw fish shortage……go fishin…..problem solved.

    3. Johnny Dangerously says:

      Oh the humanity!!! Guess you’ll have to settle for prime rib or shrimp coctail… =(

      Perhaps you can get some of those folks in Japan who are mourning deceased relatives, homeless in freezing temps, or are worried about where their family’s next meal is going to come from to send you some money to subsidize your sushi habit.

      1. gt says:

        I think you kind of missed the point of the article. It was basically to show the far ranging economic impact of the earthquake. Also, I doubt you’d be so flippant about this if you owned a business in San Francisco that depended on its supply from Japan. Is the prospect of your business going bankrupt as bad as losing your life in an earthquake? No, but it is far from a small concern. If your economic future was based on your restaurant and that future had now been placed in jeopardy I think you’d be a little concerned as well.

        In short, think before you type.

    4. Johnny Dangerously says:

      Oh the humanity!!! Guess you’ll have to settle for prime rib or shrimp coctail… =(

      Perhaps you can get some of those folks in Japan who are mourning deceased relatives, homeless in freezing temps, or are worried about where their family’s next meal is going to come from to send you some money to subsidize your sushi habit.

      Nice way to represent America there…

  2. Lisa Joseph says:

    There are people in Japan who have lost everything, who are facing shortages and trying to live from hour to hour. Be thankful you have something to eat instead of worrying about sushi supplies.

    1. Seth H says:

      I’ll second that!!

    2. Wayne says:

      Should we similarly not “worry” about a shortage of iodine tablets?

      1. Ron says:

        No……you shouldn’t. Iodine Tablets aren’t going to help you if there is an emergency. There is a shortage of Potassium IodiDe Tablets. So no, don’t worry, for now, about a shortage, of which there is none, of Iodine Tablets.

      2. Wayne says:

        I think you missed the point, Ron.

      3. Another Wayne says:

        If you are in the U.S., Iodide tablets are more likely to hurt you that any low level radiation from Japan. Come on folks. Take a deep breath and settle down. It isn’t the end of the world and the sky is not falling.

    3. Dismas says:

      Thank you Lisa Joseph for putting this in perspective. My gosh, as SFers frown about whats not on their plates, people in Japan are fighting for their next breath.

    4. missing the point says:

      and if you owned a sushi restaurant?

  3. Jin Rickard says:

    I am a sushi chef in San Francisco. Our restaurant received a call from the fish company the day after the initial tragedy in Japan. Due to transportation problems and the overall chaos the supply will be short or limited. It is not so important as compared to the loss of life and destruction that Japan is experiencing. We will make due. Prayers to the people of Japan. Ganbare!

    1. Sofa Kingdom says:

      There are latinos with the last name Rickard?

      1. Azul says:

        Who said he was Latino?

        and yes there are Latinos with white last names.

        just saying…

  4. A Nonny says:

    Two thoughts:
    1. Kathleen has got to be the shallowest, most self-centered person I’ve ever encountered.
    2. At least some fish will live for a while longer. Their lives matter, too.

    1. dday says:

      Yes, their live matter to feed people and other animals/fish.

    2. Whatchoobe Smokin says:

      Well. You sure showed them!

      Two thoughts:
      1. Since you know so much about Kathleen, what she does for a living, and especially what’s going on inside her head, clearly your psychic powers could be lucrative. You could be the next Ms. Cleo!

      2. If we eat the fish, at least the other marine life lower on the food chain will live longer. Their lives matter, too.

  5. righturn says:

    Save the endangered sushi.

  6. Troy says:

    Glad to know this reporter thinks their sushi shortage is so important when thousands of people have died and will die due to the event in Japan. Talk about being shallow and talk about a paper and an editor who has no clue in life to even print this story.

  7. Teacakes says:

    If you are worried about sushi supplies then your priorities have run amuck. Aside from that, you should read a good parasitology textbook and then tell me if you still want to eas raw fish.

    1. Reality Sandwich says:

      That’s why good sushi only uses deep-sea ocean fish. That aside, prayers for the victims in Japan. We can manage without luxuries for a long time.

    2. Sofa Kingdom says:

      Nobody has mentioned about mutated/deformed fishes from radiation exposure. Do you really want to eat them now?

      1. Tom W says:

        Mutant fish? Cool. That might actually INCREASE the supply available for sushi. Maybe Toro wont be so expensive if the fish grow to the size of whales.

        I see a movie coming: “The sushi that ate San Francisco”

      2. Rick James says:

        How much irradiated food do we eat now?

  8. liamascorcaigh says:

    Is this the San Francisco franchise of ‘The Onion’?

  9. sj says:

    Nippon, ganbatte kudasai. And please forgive the insensitivity of the azz whole that thought this was important during this time of struggle and devastation.

    1. Bobarian says:

      This borders on unforgivable. Makes me ashamed to be a human. This is worse than the Xtian Fundies claiming Japan deserved it for being Godless heathens.

  10. Hurricane05 says:

    Prayers and thoughts of recovery for the people of Japan from Texas,USA.

  11. Bobarian says:

    Congratulations, you’ve set a new standard for insensitivity.
    Why would you even print this story?

    Salvage your last shred of integrity and pull it.

  12. kyle says:

    What kind of a stupid story is this? Who cares about the sushi shortage when there are thousands dead and dying? Another great piece of reporting done by CBS. Figures readers and watchers in the gross hipster San Fran area would actually think this story was newsworthy . Please pray for and try to donate to the relief effort instead of worrying about this fad food.

  13. JH says:

    Why are they printing this story? Because it’s news. It illuminates connections in business, economics, and people and is worth knowing – that’s why. Printing this story certainly doesn’t detract from the travesty of the situation or sorrow that goes out to the people of Japan, and anyone of rational thought wouldn’t make such broad and simple-minded assumption.

    1. DB says:

      this is not news in the least. This would be akin to an article expressing angst over dwindling kosher food supply during the Holocaust. I mean isnt it common sense that, after a country experiences a TRAGIC DISASTER, that one of the many exports the country is famous for will not be as readily available. This is just insensitive and callous.

    2. Another Wayne says:

      The media has gone totally nuts on this one. Maybe predicting the end of the world will boost readership?

  14. Wayne says:

    Some of the same posters who think it is somehow “insensitive” to discuss a shortage of Sushi, and self-righteously pontificate about how people have “lost their lives” (you think the people talking about a Sushi shortage don’t already know that?) probably aren’t bothered in the least by similar articles which discuss a shortage of iodine tablets.

  15. Hurricane05 says:

    We ALL know that what has happened in Japan is going to have a broad and negative effect worldwide in many arenas. It’s just a little too soon to start worrying about whether or not we get sushi or cars , ok? Let them at least finish looking for their dead before we start being concerned about the economic impact on OUR country. And YES it does detract , it makes us look like the greedy, consumption obsessed society that we are!

    1. Susan says:

      How does having more information IN ANY WAY detract from the sensitivity to what’s happening? People have a right to know what’s going on (or shall we limit the sharing of factual information?). Being aware of what’s going on, why, and how in no way takes away from the condolences, well wishes, and prayers for Japan.

  16. Sally says:

    Whining libs complaining about a SUSHI SHORTAGE omgggggggg typical-

    1. Susan says:

      I’m conservative Sally, and your comment is intended to express, what…?

  17. Dee says:

    Perhaps some of these sushi restaurants could have some fundraisers for the people of Japan instead of whining about seabass and scallops. I am certain your Japanese patrons would happily resort to rice only if it helps their homeland. This story is quite insensitive and makes the US sound selfish.

  18. Harriet says:

    Time for a round of golf!

  19. Chris says:

    Yeah the reporter is shallow. But it’s okay if Obama spends his time on the golf course, doing his NCAA bracket picks, going to parties for ST Patties day, going to a party for the news org, or going on a trip to Latin America to visit three countries. Meanwhile four reactors are in serious trouble thousands have died, Lybia is bombing the people who are trying to run the nut out of office there, Eygpt won’t meet with Hillary since she had little faith that they could oust her friend, Saudi Arabia moves thousands of troops into Bahrain without telling the US but our President is more worried about bullys and womens health to be bothered by any of this. Lets not mention the fact that we have a huge fight over the budget that he has be running from. But this reporter is shallow. Give me a break. He might as well be reporting on something as lame as this because it’s apparent the people in the country have blinders on. Any bets on if he get re-elected or not? I got a lunch bet on it. Just keep the blinders on people. A liberal is a person who has nothing at stake at the moment.

  20. Tami says:

    You mean ANOTHER ROUND OF GOLF!!!! disgraceful mentality between sound bytes of non stop preaching- maybe another vacation is in order or another soiree! No amount of spin will ever change the impression left- very disappointing- this insensitive story about sushi is typical indeed!!

  21. Marshall says:

    I like my Sushi medium-well done.

  22. GetReal says:

    Self righteous PC idiots who object to this story have no sympathy for the many Japanese restaurant and fish market employees, who make only a very modest living as it is, being economically hard hit as a result of this horrible and widespread tragedy in Japan. Political correctness is the worst form of self-indulgence in the face of such a tragedy.

    1. Dan says:

      These modest seafood owners are not about political anything but I will imagine they are very grateful to be here despite being surrounded by selfish Californians. They are no worse off than the people of Lousiana who are still out of business due to their own government.

  23. Keith G says:

    Nice to see the folks at KCBS have their priorities straight. Thousands of people have lost their lives, near countless homes and businesses destroyed, nuclear plants on the verge of great disaster, and a whole country set back for many years to come….and they are laminting the fact that their raw fish supply is going to be interrupted! Reminds me of the tale of “Nero fiddling while Rome burned”. Yet again, one more reason to wall off San Francisco and make it a country all unto itself because they are so out of touch with mainstream America.

  24. Mike Favs says:

    Has anyone noticed how hard it is to find a good pair of Ben-Wah balls these days as well??

  25. Dan says:

    We already figured out last week there would be a sushi shotage so it is not news. It was news that Obama can’t stop golfing and bracketing basketball. Perhaps this week Michelle can take another vacation.

  26. Len says:

    He is entitled to play as much golf as he likes and entertaining at the White House is a privilege of the office. This isnt his fault leave him alone. There is nothing he can do and he is available on the golf course to take phone calls. Face it people he is in over his head and probably doesnt know how to lead he is better at giving speeches on TV so let him play lots of golf and throw parties every night and worry about basketball. What’s the big deal? He doesnt like to get involved overseas its too much work. Hes got Hillary to do the work and she likes to travel in jets and goes everywhere. He has to stay home to keep close to the phone. Bottom line nothing wrong with golf and parties.

    1. Vinnie says:

      Sure he’s in over his head. Anybody with a brain could tell during the campaign that he would be. Still, he could at least give an impression of caring. Instead of golf he could be watching developments on TV or out raising donations for disaster relief. There is absolutely something wrong with golf and parties because that’s not what the fools who voted for this charlatan elected him to do. Between a global financial crisis, major political upheaval all across the Middle East, soaring fuel and food prices, raging unemployment and devastating natural disasters in New Zealand and Japan the POTUS needs to do something more than play golf and host parties. He could have stayed in Chicago to do that. Most of us wish he had.

      1. MikeM says:

        I read he and Michelle are headed to Rio this weekend. I thought it was a joke, but it’s in several newspapers. He has the common sense of a basketball without air. He may be entitled, but he represents this country and I find it appalling.

    2. Keep on Smokin, Len says:

      Len, glad to see medicinal marijuana in the land of fruit and nuts is being put to good use. Obama is more worried about sharing his March Madness picks than he is speaking out about this tragedy. This guy would get lost leading a one-car funeral.

  27. FooGoo says:

    thppppffftt — this is Pelosi’s ‘hood .. Let ’em eat tuna!!!

  28. Churchy says:

    Daunting shortages? Is this some kind of sick joke, CBS? People in Japan are without homes, heat, food and water as well as being exposed to deadly radiation but the Communist Broadcast System is afraid that liberal San Franciscans might not be able to get their Hokkaido scallops or makimono? Is there a problem, CBS, with leaving what food is available in Japan to feed the Japanese who sorely need it? We should be sending THEM food! Thoroughly disgusting article.

  29. mscott says:

    who wants to eat cesium laced fish?

  30. Conrad says:

    Interuptions interuptions interuptions a person cant vacation in peace. No wonder there is little time to read the bill. Pass now read later is necessary or you cant get the job done between golf, vacations and fund raising dinner parties. I need another family break and we are low on lobster.

  31. BBradley says:

    Dont send money overseas I need it for my reelection campaign if Hollywood sends their money to Japan thats less for my campaign!!!! Maybe if I keep quiet nobody will notice. After all 4 more years of golf and parties and taxing and punishing the working class is about 500 fund rasiers away. Pass the Lobster I can’t wait for my trip to Martha’s Vineyard- forget Hawaii too dangerous for the kids.

  32. Carlos says:

    Gaaaahh!! Somebody do something!

  33. Realist says:

    Spare Me!! Only In The Bay Area Could This Be An Issue!!!

  34. Anon says:

    What matters more, your own self preservation or that of a strangers? This is a fundamental question. Personally, I care more about my own life and that of my family than I do over Japan. Sushi shortages? It may mean higher prices, irradiated food, which both lead to businesses closing. That is bad locally, meaning, its is bad for the USA. Expand this to all the “relief” funds and it gets worse. Buying physical supplies in the USA and shipping them to Japan is good for our economy. Donating money that is converted into Yen in the Japanese market and then used to buy supplies not only takes commerce away from the USA, but helps keep our dollar devalued against foreign currency. Yes, the earthquake is a tragedy, however, lets worry about our own preservation first.

    1. Mike says:

      In other words, you’re saying that it’s all about you. Thanks for sharing.

    2. D D says:

      Completely agree. And then so many people are appaled, saying poeple here are selfish and worthless, when it’s not really about the fish on my plate, but the people who put that fish on my plate. the bay area has a sushi resturant on almost ever corner.. think about those families too. I’m not here saying I don’t care about the well being of the japanese people. My heart goes out to them and their families. it’s a chain reaction that will hurt people everywhere and we have to understand that.

  35. jkbnk says:

    they will be ok. Just like the U.S. was after pearl.

  36. John says:

    Oh NO!!! God help us!!!!

  37. jjChester says:

    Chen can’t get fresh tako…quick call the Red Cross. That is true suffering.

  38. Troy says:

    WOW… San Fran supposedly the bastion of American humanitarianism… is worried about sushi prices in the face of the Japanese disaster? How very hipster of you. Hopefully we don’t have a repeat of the 1906 quake… you might have to actually forgo sushi.

  39. wrscrwd says:

    TV’s, Stereos, Computers will all need to be checked for radiation!

  40. Kate says:

    I don’t think I will ever eat sushi again after this, my number one concern is radioactive fish. This will also effect sushi industry, with the run on anti radiation pills in the US right now, I doubt anyone would consider eating sushi for a long time to come

  41. bobo says:

    Not so much about just sushi but about making a living and the effects on the global food supply. Where I live in Washington State, the radioactive cloud that may come, could contaminate much of this country’s food supply. The radioactivity that is falling in the sea could contaminate the food supply in general, think about mercury in tuna.

  42. youdontgetit says:

    Seriously, you think this is insensitive and selfish?!? So every article out now should simply be about the deviation. Any other story is just showing how little we care?? It’s a story about the impact. It’s not saying anything about how important sushi is or that its more important than being glued to your TV watching every news break. I thought it was interesting that that much of the fish comes from Japan. I found it interesting that there is a probable shortage. No i’m not concerned about it. I do think it is interesting. You think that has any bearing on how i feel about the tragedy in Japan?!? Of course it’s not imperative anyone have Sushi. Like there aren’t a thousand Beeber and Sheen articles you morons are reading anyway… Wana see panic shut down Walmart in the Midwest for a week….

  43. John Pierce says:

    Whatever some of the commenters may think, life in all its aspects goes on for all of us. We are not less important as individuals just because we aren’t in the news. If the disaster has some effect on food supply, it would be silly to pretend it doesn’t. If I were to focus my attention only on events at the power plants, it would do nobody any practical good.

  44. SteveX says:

    I know a LOT of dirt poor Filipino fishermen who would LOVE to supply US markets…

  45. Lou says:

    You people should be, in addition, worrying about the germs you are getting from eating raw fish. Some of those germs will kill you.

  46. Ernest Murphy says:

    This story should get the Springtime for Hitler award.

  47. Peregrino says:

    Irradiating food is a great way of killing bacteria and preserving it. Nothing to worry about from imported Japanese seafood.

  48. Sean Patriot says:


  49. Sean Patriot says:


  50. Andrew says:

    Regardless of your political affiliations, I would imagine that anyone with an ounce of common sense would see that this article demonstrates a extremely selfish perspective on the tragedy in Japan.

    Otherwise those that claim that others who have made comments in a similar vain to mine are being overly “PC”, and that we should show some concern about those in SF who may lose their jobs, should actually read the damn article.

    This article focuses purely on the completely trivial consumer impact associated with the shortage of fish imports from Japan, not the job loses that are associated with such a shortage.

    However if you wish to comment off topic you should at least think your arguments through more thoroughly. To start, job losses in Sushi restaurants will be relatively limited compared to the job losses associated the Japanese tourist industry as a whole here in the US. However an article on such a subject would have substantially more validity as a news story that the article above, due to the major impact that such losses would have on many people’s lives.

    Finally to those that want to comment on the presidents golfing activities etc into this discussion, should at least be vaguely informed in terms of what resources the US has already deployed in Japan via the US Navy, and the presidents commitments with regards to the high level of support that we would offer Japan moving forward.

  51. JimKaliss says:

    My thoughts go out to the afflicted areas of Japan, where people are having difficulty getting rice and water! Meanwhile, those gourmet restauranteurs could take this opportunity to get creative with vegan sushi. It might even become a trend.

  52. Craigster says:

    Awww. Poor babies life is so hard.

  53. Sushi Server says:

    I work at a sushi restaurant in the Bay Area and have many Japanese coworkers. The comments about this having no impact and ‘get over it’ are just hurtful and immature. Many of my coworkers have lost family members and friends, I very much doubt that they would also like to lose their means of employment. Also, sourcing from other fisheries would be possible if we (Americans) hadn’t already destroyed the biggest known fishery of all time (the east coast).

  54. Mannie says:

    Oh, the Humanity!

  55. Mike says:

    TOTALLY MORONIC ARTICLE >> “Sushi Bars Facing Daunting Supply Shortages…”
    “There are a lot of delays, especially the fish that might be a special request. They have been saying, we don’t have that,” …

  56. Spodeley says:

    Hell, you can get Sushi at Safeway! It’s cold, dead, fish – and there’s a little guy who’ll roll you some during your lunch break a the Safeway Deli. Who cares what the big-dollar SF sushi joints charge. You can get sea bass, tako (octopus), as fresh-catch ALL along the coast – and even tobiuo (flying fish) from Mexican waters.

    1. ObamaSUXS says:

      You work at Safeway, don’t you?

  57. Alice Polarbear says:

    If a major earthquake cast San Francisco into the sea, we’d face the terrible tragedy of no longer having Nancy Pelosi in Congress, because she’d have no more San Francisco to represent. What a tragedy THAT would be!

  58. obamasuxs says:

    Again, I am not disappointed since this is what I expect out of the land of fruits and nuts

  59. Seedocopok says:

    The people that died in this “incident” can always be replaced, but the economic damage may never be correctable.

  60. Richard says:

    There are people starving in Japan right now. None of this food should have been shipped out of Japan. It should have been given to the starving Japaneese people. There will be plenty of time for profeteering after the disaster is over. There is plenty of good American fish here that people in America can eat in the mean-time. Get a grip on reality people. Put away your snobbery for just a little while and eat some American fish.

  61. clyde says:

    Only in liberal far out useless san francisco would you liberal sushi sucking snobs care about the fact you can’t get your precious raw fish treats!
    Japan is in almost a melt down condition and you are worried about you suck ass raw fish…just unbelievable!

  62. chuck says:


  63. Al S. says:

    Like maybe the beautiful sea creatures will have a chance to repopulate dude, now that all those Japanese fishing trawlers have been destroyed. Fewer people to feed will help the fishes too man. Murder dolphins and this is what you get, karma is a tsunami named charlie tuna.

  64. EdV says:

    I’ve got an idea! Angus Sushi!

  65. stantheman13 says:

    Cause and effect…..radiation leaks over the sea=radioactive fish. Using corn to make fuel=higher food prices.

  66. zaglossu says:

    San Franciso foodies are the most smug, trivial people on earth. I know. I used to live there.

  67. D G says:

    Those who comment about losing San Francisco an earthquake and saying no one will miss them. And by saying they’re useless, pretentious, worthless, or snobs, nobody is accomplishing anything. If you ‘ve ever been to San Francisco, you’ll know that they’re are TONS of sushi resturants which in turn means many people are out of buisness- many jobs lost, much money lost! It’s fine to miss the point of an article, especially when it wasn’t articulated well. But what makes those who have written nasty comments that they are any better than those people who only care about fish prices? Lets be human and work together. Im sure nobody would be laughing if it were SF, as much as people seem to think that they won’t care..