The GOODS from Ocean Wise
Vancouver, BC | Ten years ago today Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre established its Ocean Wise™ conservation program, now Canada’s most recognized sustainable seafood program. Initiated as a local, grassroots program in 2005, Ocean Wise has grown to more than 600 partners across the country and collaborates with chefs, restauranteurs, markets, suppliers and fishers.
“Ten years ago, we developed a sustainable seafood conservation program in response to requests from members of our community, like chef Rob Clark of the Fish Counter, who wanted the Vancouver Aquarium’s assurance that the seafood they were choosing to serve their consumers were abundant and resilient to fishing pressure,” said Dolf DeJong, vice president of conservation and education, Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre. “It is because of our dedicated Ocean Wise partners and their commitment to raising awareness about ocean-friendly seafood that has created a groundswell of interest in Ocean Wise. One of our proudest moments is hearing consumers now ask for Ocean Wise options in restaurants and markets to ensure the seafood they are eating is sustainably sourced.”
Ocean Wise research shows that 70 per cent of seafood offered at participating Ocean Wise restaurants is sustainable compared to only 40 per cent offered at non-participating restaurants. While it is not a requisite of Ocean Wise partners to serve 100 per cent Ocean Wise seafood items, sustainable choices need to be clearly identified with the Ocean Wise symbol. Across Canada, 59 partners proudly commit to a 100 per cent Ocean Wise recommended seafood offering.
Ocean Wise partners have not only expanded in numbers but also in scope. This year, all-natural, Canadian-made Walter Caesar mix joined as a partner– its clam juice is sustainably sourced from the North Atlantic. Open Farm pet food became the first Ocean Wise pet food on the market. New, innovative adaptations of ocean-friendly options show that success in the sustainability movement can take on many forms.
Sometimes success simply means keeping sustainable options in our own backyard. In 2006, almost all spot prawns caught off the coast of B.C. were shipped directly to Asia where they are revered for their sweetness and delicate texture. Chef Clark and Organic Ocean’s Steve Johansen knew that, with some local awareness, these sustainable B.C. spot prawns would be as sought-after as their counterpart, traditional pond-raised tiger prawns – the most popular, unsustainable seafood item in North America.
Ocean Wise partnered with Clark, Johansen and other members of the Chefs’ Table Society to promote the short spot prawn season, which kicks off with a Spot Prawn Festival at False Creek docks each spring. The majority of spot prawns are now enjoyed in B.C. and the rest of Canada, making this local, ocean-friendly seafood choice a delicious seasonal option, and also helping to reduce the pressure placed on precious mangrove forests which are clear-cut in order to farm unsustainable tiger prawns.
B.C. spot prawns are in the spotlight along with nine other ocean-friendly Canadian seafood items the Aquarium’s Ocean Wise program is highlighting as part of its anniversary year:
· Albacore tuna
· Dungeness crab
· Pacific halibut
· Pacific sardine
· Salmon (chinook, chum, coho, pink, sockeye)
· Shellfish (clams, mussels, oysters, scallops)
· Shrimp (spot prawns, sidestripe, humpback, pink)
· White sturgeon
· Yellow perch
Celebration events are taking place across the country this year, starting with an Ocean Wise symposium on April 27 to discuss industry best practices and the science behind managed fisheries. The event will bring together chefs, seafood producers, scientists and industry experts for a discussion about current issues and trends in sustainable fishing, and what the next 10 years may hold. Members of the public are encouraged to watch online and ask questions during the live stream.
About Ocean Wise™
Overfishing is the biggest threat facing our oceans today. The Ocean Wise symbol next to a menu or seafood item is the Vancouver Aquarium’s assurance of an ocean-friendly seafood choice. Vancouver Aquarium’s Ocean Wise program makes it easy for consumers to make sustainable seafood choices that ensure the health of our oceans for generations to come.
The Vancouver Aquarium’s Ocean Wise program works directly with restaurants, markets, food services and suppliers to ensure they have the most current scientific information regarding sustainable seafood and to help them make ocean-friendly buying decisions. The options are highlighted on their menus and display cases with the Ocean Wise symbol, making it easier for consumers to make ocean-friendly seafood choices.
In addition to its website, Ocean Wise also makes available an iPhone application—an easy-to-use app that provides consumers with Ocean Wise restaurants, markets and supplier venues from coast to coast, and a comprehensive list of ocean-friendly seafood options. The Ocean Wise iPhone app is continuously updated with ocean-friendly seafood options and Ocean Wise partners spanning Victoria to Halifax.
Learn more at www.oceanwise.ca.