A fish harvest that’s more sustainable—and tastier, too

Saif Khawaja is a sushi lover. On occasion he’s been known to splurge and order omakase style, a fine dining experience that allows sushi chefs to offer the best of the market to their customers as a tasting menu. Such meals can run hundreds of dollars a person.

The tastiness of the fish served in this setting owes in large part to the animals’ journey from sea to table. And with a budding entrepreneurial endeavor, Khawaja hopes to bring this level of culinary quality to the masses, while also encouraging more humane and sustainable fish harvest practices.

Khawaja’s company, Shinkei Systems, has developed a robotics-based system to automate a Japanese style of fish harvest, known as ikejime. While many fish that eventually make it to our plates die by suffocating on ship decks, ikejime involves using a knife to cut the fish’s hindbrain, killing it instantly. Not only is the method considered more humane than protracted suffocation, but ikejime is also believed to lend a better flavor to the meat, avoiding a build-up of lactic acid and cortisol in the fish’s body that can compromise flavor.