GCM_2757Trawl by Mark Wunsch-Greencoast Media14

Photo credit: Mark Wunsch, Greencoast Media

For Immediate Release: Top North American seafood organizations have given a stamp of approval for the first time to several of B.C.’s groundfish fisheries. Today’s recommendations from the U.S. Monterey Bay Aquarium’s (MBA) Seafood Watch Program and Canada’s SeaChoice program, combined with earlier Marine Stewardship Council recommendations, mean that over 88 per cent of groundfish volume caught in Canada’s Pacific waters can be recommended to consumers. Six years ago, the same organizations recommended avoiding most of the fish caught by the province’s largest fishery.

“This has been a remarkable conservation achievement,” said Scott Wallace, senior research scientist with the David Suzuki Foundation. “Ten years ago I would not have believed that we would be giving our support to so many of these fisheries that were once on our ‘avoid’ list.”

“This is a good news story of how collaboration between industry, government and conservation organizations can drive solutions that lead to real change on the water,” said Jenna Stoner, sustainable seafood campaign manager with Living Oceans Society.

Several species of sole, rockfish, Pacific cod, sablefish, Pacific hake and halibut were among the fish with positive assessments from the seafood organizations. This year’s quota for B.C.’s groundfish fisheries is 168,000 tonnes.

Collaboration between the David Suzuki Foundation, Living Oceans Society and the bottom trawl industry on measures to manage for habitat impacts came into effect in April 2012 and led to big conservation gains. Reforms included protection of corals, sponges and deepwater habitats, creation of new trawl boundaries based on habitat types, establishment of the world’s first habitat quota and enforcement of a coral and sponge encounter protocol.

Canada’s Pacific groundfish fleet has also been recognized as a global leader in monitoring fish caught at sea. Longline and trawl vessels now have full monitoring, whether through an on-board observer or video coverage. An independent monitor also counts all fish arriving at the docks. “Being able to verify exactly what is caught by all vessels, for all species, for all trips is the cornerstone of this management system,” Wallace said.

Several conservation concerns and ‘avoid’ recommendations were also identified in today’s assessments, including outdated stock assessments and slow recovery of historically overfished species. Fortunately, the current management system offers solutions to these remaining issues. Updated stock assessments are anticipated in the next year to bring additional species into the recommended zone for consumers.

MBA completed assessments for Alaska and the west coast of the United States, which also showed sustainability improvements. “Seafood Watch now has more than 100 ‘Best Choice’ and ‘Good Alternative’ consumer recommendations for groundfish from Baja to B.C. to the Bering Sea,” says the program’s Science Manager Santi Roberts. “Given that many of these fish don’t recognize international boundaries, we need strong management throughout the North Pacific.”

The David Suzuki Foundation and the Living Oceans Society also released a video today with an inside look at how former adversaries became collaborators in fisheries management improvements.

The David Suzuki Foundation and Living Oceans Society are members of SeaChoice, a Canada-wide program that helps businesses and consumers make choices to support the health of marine ecosystems. Sustainability rankings are based on a green (best choice), yellow (some concerns) and red (avoid) spectrum.

Download MBA assessment report (PDF)

Video Feature

Media contacts:
Scott Wallace, David Suzuki Foundation 778-558-3984
Jenna Stoner, Living Oceans Society 604-339-5896

Posted by... lana on Dec 28, 2014

New Beginnings for the New Year

By Lana Gunnlaugson, National SeaChoice Manager

Credit: Shawn Taylor Photography

Credit: Shawn Taylor Photography

With every New Year comes the opportunity to make changes in support of a healthier lifestyle. And after a long holiday season full of eggnog and rich foods, many Canadians put health at the top of their priority lists for the new calendar year.

This often includes getting more exercise, quitting unhealthy habits, and of course making better dietary choices. For some people it is simply cutting down on calories and bringing out the scale, but for others it involves enjoying more super rich foods to keep them healthy and prevent disease.

Seafood can be a healthy part of anyone’s diet, especially when choosing fish high in healthy omega-3 fatty acids, protein and that are low in toxins and other pollutants. So if you are like me, and looking to add some more balance to the New Year, here are some helpful tips to keep you healthier.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids - Two essential omega-3 fatty acids that you do not want to cut back on are DHA and EPA – both found primarily in fish. The benefits of omega-3 fatty acids are endless. From curbing joint pain and fighting depression, to protecting against dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease. There are also the added benefits of keeping your skin, hair, and heart healthy with omega-3 fats, found in sablefish, salmon and other fin fish.

Iron – For those struggling with iron like me, enjoy shellfish for an iron-rich supplement to your diet. Mollusks such as mussels, clams, and oysters top the chart for iron levels – offering even more iron than liver.

Protein - Seafood offers a complete protein source as it contains high quality protein and all of the essential amino acids for human health. Many fish like Albacore tuna are lean in fat and high in protein – the perfect mix for all those additional New Year’s workouts!

Zinc and Vitamin D – In need of a cold buster? Enjoy oysters and clams for a double whammy of zinc and Vitamin D to scare any cold away. Zinc is best found in seafood and not only strengthens your immune system, but it also helps your body to heal wounds.

From the team at SeaChoice, we wish you a very happy New Year full of good health and happiness! Thank you for choosing your seafood wisely to help ensure the health of our oceans too.

By Lana Gunnlaugson, National SeaChoice Manager

Photo Credit: Lana Gunnlaugson

Photo Credit: Lana Gunnlaugson

The holiday season is here and with this festive time of year comes endless holiday parties with customary foods including the shrimp ring. Unfortunately this traditional party favourite is typically on the SeaChoice red “avoid” naughty list. The shrimp used has ecological impacts and recently, the fish feed used in shrimp farming has even been linked to on board human slavery.

As the notorious shrimp ring is one of the holidays top selling appetizers, Chef Ned Bell and SeaChoice National Manager, Lana Gunnlaugson, have teamed up to evolve this Christmas holiday tradition by creating a green-listed SeaChoice “Best Choice” shrimp ring. Chef Ned Bell explains, “although a sustainable shrimp ring may not be widely available in stores yet, it is beyond simple to create. There is no reason why Canadians can’t make their own version at home by buying sustainable shrimp.”

“Our hope is to not only raise awareness around responsible seafood choices, but also to show Canadians that there are alternative solutions for the popular shrimp ring such as wild Canadian shrimp and farmed Selva shrimp,” says Lana Gunnlaugson, National Manager for SeaChoice. By creating consumer demand for a sustainable shrimp ring, it won’t be long until the market widely offers a greener shrimp ring for the holidays. This Christmas, Vancouver’s Fish Counter will custom make shrimp rings with local BC spot prawns with a minimum of 1 lb order and 24 hour notice.

 

Posted by... lana on Nov 21, 2014

A Chowder Chowdown

By Kurtis Hayne, SeaChoice Seafood Market Analyst

NedsChowderAutumn is the perfect time to cozy up with a bowl of piping hot soup. And on these cold and stormy autumn nights, it’s hard to top a bowl of comforting sustainable seafood chowder at the Vancouver Aquarium. Earlier this week, was Ocean Wise’s 7th annual Chowder Chowdown – where 14 chefs showed up with their best seafood chowder recipes.

Each chowder was paired with a delicious local craft beer tasting in hopes of being crowned Chowdown Champion. The reigning champion, Chef Chris Whittaker of Forage, was up against some new tough competition this year including Chef Trevor Bird from Fable Restaurant, Chef Alex Hon from West and Chef Ryan Bissell of Perch Restaurant, not to mention a familiar face to the ocean-friendly seafood world, Chef Ned Bell, who ended up being the defending people’s choice champion.

The evening not only served up mouth-watering chowder, but the chefs also dished up awareness around ocean-friendly seafood. All chowders were prepared using a diverse array of  only responsibly sourced seafood ingredients. And if you want to make your own chowder at home, you can always look for the SeaChoice or Ocean Wise logo to help inform your purchases at the grocery store.

All of the chowders were delicious, but there could only be one winner for the night. A panel of judges, including Guy Dean of Albion and T.V. personality, Dawn Chubai, crowned Chef Ned Bell the 2014 winner with his Smoked Black Cod “Chowda.” Chef Chris Whittaker had the best beer pairing with his Smoked Sablefish and Chanterelle Mushroom Chowder paired with R&B brewing. Ned’s chowder was also voted “people’s choice”  winner by all of the attendees. Although the attendees that received a spoon for the evening, might just have received the best trophy of them all.

Posted by... lana on Nov 3, 2014

Closed containment farmed salmon gets a green light

By Jenna Stoner, SeaChoice Member from the Living Oceans Society

photo 3There is now a new option for seafood lovers looking for ocean-friendly choices: Farmed salmon raised in closed containment has received a ‘Best Choice’ ranking. The assessment results were prominently highlighted at the Aquaculture Innovation Workshop – held in Vancouver, BC on October 27th – 28th – that aimed to address the barriers to commercialization of closed containment aquaculture.

The green ranking is a global recommendation for all Atlantic salmon raised in closed containment. The assessment, however, is based on the production practices of three operating closed containment Atlantic salmon farms: the ‘Namgis First Nation’s farm on northern Vancouver Island, the Conservation Fund’s Freshwater Institute in West Virginia, and Atlantic Sapphire in Denmark. In April 2014 the ‘Namgis’ farm was the first Canadian business to provide closed containment farmed Atlantic salmon to market. Sold under the KUTERRA brand name, the land raised salmon are sold by SeaChoice retail partner Canada Safeway in British Columbia and Alberta.

Salmon farmed on land and in closed contained facilities is a sustainable practice because the farming environment is separated from the natural environment. This reduces, if not eliminates, many of the problems commonly attributed to open net-pen salmon farming such as: transferring diseases and parasites to wild salmon, the impacts of farm waste on the seabed, and the release of chemicals are all eliminated. Plus, up to 30 per cent less feed is used in closed containment.

Closed containment salmon farming is a growing industry. By 2016 more than 15,000 tonnes of salmon will be farmed in closed containment facilities around the world. That may not seem like much compared to the approximate two million tonnes of salmon produced by open net-pen industry, but the increased interest in, and industry growth of, closed containment are positive indicators that there is an alternative way to farm salmon that is both financially viable and environmentally friendly.

The SeaChoice ‘Best Choice’ ranking for Atlantic salmon farmed in closed containment is an important milestone for sustainable seafood and for the industry. It allows for this sustainable alternative to be clearly differentiated in the marketplace making it easier for citizens to make ocean-friendly purchasing choices. It is also the first Atlantic farmed salmon to be given a green recommendation.

So next time you head to the store to buy your seafood meal, just ask: “do you sell closed-containment farmed salmon?”

Posted by... lana on Oct 16, 2014

Connecting Youth to Healthy Food

By Lana Gunnlaugson, National SeaChoice Manager

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Growing Chefs Executive Director Helen Stortini

Earlier this month, SeaChoice attended the “From Farms to Forks” annual harvest kitchen party hosted by Growing Chefs. The evening was held at the Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts in Vancouver, which offered a fun and interactive venue for this fundraising celebration.

And although much of the focus for Growing Chefs is working with children in classrooms to grow a passion for healthy and sustainable food, there was also much care in choosing local and ocean-friendly seafood too. From farmed local oysters on the half shell, BC Albacore tuna poke and wild BC confit salmon, the seafood was a highlight for many on the evening’s menu.

Chefs hosted nine unique mouth-watering tasting stations in their own kitchens representing local restaurants such as The Acorn, Provence and Fable. Guests moved from kitchen to kitchen with just a fork in hand to enjoy the tastings paired with local BC wines and beer. It’s not every day you get to walk into the chef’s kitchen to watch them prepare your dish AND enjoy their creation, while asking them tasting questions about their menu and local ingredients.

Overall Growing Chefs had a successful night, reaching their fundraising goal of $20,000, which will allow them to support their 2015 Classroom Gardening and Cooking Program where they hope to provide more than 900 students hands-o16374_10154699889275068_218950808913877259_nn education about food security, food literacy, and healthy eating. With any hope, SeaChoice will have the opportunity to work with Growing Chefs in the future to help educate our youth about growing seafood sustainably too with innovative aquaculture solutions.

 

 

 

Posted by... lana on Oct 10, 2014

A Kudos to The Big Carrot

By Rhona Govender, SeaChoice Member from CPAWS BC

The Big CarrotSeaChoice is proud to showcase The Big Carrot, our retail partner since 2009. Our recent interactions with their team has shown us that their dedication goes far beyond providing healthy food. The Big Carrot is committed to health and sustainability at all levels, ranging from providing products that promote a healthy living to sourcing products that use ecologically sound practices.

The Big Carrot’s commitment to sustainable seafood is based on their Six-point Seafood Sustainability Policy, which was created in collaboration with SeaChoice. Their dedication is highlighted in this policy, as demonstrated by including such strong principles and their openness to sharing this information with the public. The Big Carrot ensures that all fish sold are sound SeaChoice choices and they completely prohibit the sale of red-listed “Avoid” options. They are also engaged in effecting change by having increased product transparency, a focused educational component, and encouraging changes to policy.

We are happy to be working with an organization that has a primary focus of sourcing products with a minimal impact on the planet. As the cultural anthropologist and writer Margaret Mead once wrote, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, concerned citizens can change the world. Indeed it is the only thing that ever has.” Not only is The Big Carrot doing their part as a business, but they are also creating the opportunity for members of the public to do so as well.

The Big Carrot and SeaChoice share the common vision of securing the future sustainability of the ocean’s resources. We plan to continue supporting each other to move forward with this goal, and hope you do too.

Posted by... lana on Oct 7, 2014

Introducing Slow Fish to BC

By Kurtis Hayne, SeaChoice Seafood Market Analyst

SlowFishDinnerWebsiteCarouselThe inaugural Slow Fish BC mystery dinner took place on September 27th at the Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts (PICA) and was spearheaded by Chef Robert Clark, PICA’s own Chef Julian Bond and the Chefs’ Table Society of BC. A major part of the Slow Fish mandate is to promote the sustainable use of our oceans’ resources. Chef Robert Clark, the night’s master of ceremonies, has long preached the philosophy of sustainable seafood and the role chefs have in supporting responsible seafood choices to ensure the future health of our oceans.

In attendance were many chefs with similar views, each cooking mouthwatering dishes using very unique and local ingredients from our west coast. The Four Seasons Vancouver Hotel’s Yew Seafood Restaurant + Bar, Chef Ned Bell, recently completed a cycling trip across Canada in support of sustainable seafood and healthy oceans, cooked up gooseneck barnacles on greens with pickled cauliflower and apricots.

Chef David Hawksworth prepared Honey Mussels in a tomato and fennel broth and Chef Robert Belcham prepared sustainably farmed Northern Divine Sturgeon.

The other mystery chefs were Roger Ma, Andrea Carlson, Lisa Ahier and Jonathan Chovancek, who prepared sea urchin, geoduck, oysters and clams. Each chef hosted their own open training kitchen where they prepped their dish and were able to chat with the guests who moved from cooking station to cooking station.

Despite all of the delicious food, a major focus of the event was also on education and outreach. In attendance were many leading environmental photo2groups including This Fish, the Vancouver Aquarium’s Ocean Wise, Pacific Salmon Foundation, Watershed Watch and SeaChoice. Many of the attendees, although well-versed in the issues surrounding their local seafood took time away from the festivities of the night to stop by and chat in the education room.

Ultimately chefs have played a large role in making sustainable seafood choices desirable. Without ocean ambassador chefs like Robert Clark, local treasures like BC spot prawns or albacore tuna would be difficult to find in the Canadian market. The BC Slow Fish mystery dinner highlighted how each person – whether a fisher, farmer, chef, scientist, or just a general seafood lover, is key in protecting our oceans though choosing to celebrate and eat sustainable seafood.

 

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