Posted by... lana on Jul 16, 2014

Chefs for Oceans – fueled by Canadians  

By Lana Gunnlaugson, National SeaChoice Manager

Ned Bell in Nova Scotia

Ned Bell in Nova Scotia

When Chef Ned Bell first shared his idea to ride his bike across Canada in support of healthy lakes, rivers and oceans, I knew immediately that this would be one of the loftiest projects that we would likely ever work together on. Biking 8000km from coast to coast is daunting in itself. But a tour of this size also requires careful planning, a team of dedicated support, fundraising efforts, not to mention a whole lot of heart.

To be honest, I initially had my moments of doubt. I organized another cross Canada tour, and witnessing first hand what it takes to make this sort of endeavor a success made me wonder if we could pull it off. So when Ned first came to me earlier this year to discuss making his dream a reality, I was hesitant to initially commit. I actually didn’t think he was crazy enough to go for it either! We had little time to organize the tour and only a small team in place to support the next steps, but there definitely was a lot of heart.

Chefs for Oceans on the road

Chefs for Oceans on the road

After a few years of working with Ned, I knew that he was determined enough to make Chefs for Oceans a reality. I also am slightly addicted to monster projects that have the ability to create change. And so when Ned secured a van for the tour, his dream was becoming a reality with the incredible support of his lovely wife Kate, his entire family, the Four Seasons and both of the teams at Ocean Wise and SeaChoice.

But beyond the fierce Chefs for Oceans planning team, what really has warmed my heart is all of the support from coast to coast. Donations have ranged from a tour van and road bikes to air travel points and promotional materials, making the basic logistics of this tour possible. And our co-hosts have not only opened their restaurants, aquariums and business space to welcome locals to twenty events along the tour, but many have also generously offered their staff, catering and support in promoting the tour.

Canadian fishers, aquaculturists and seafood suppliers have also helped us tremendously by donating sustainable seafood product for our events across the country. Some businesses like Organic Ocean have even gone above and beyond by helping us to fundraise with 1% of all seafood sales being donated to Chefs for Oceans during the tour. Albion has also generously donated sustainable canned Albacore tuna to support Ned with his fundraising efforts. Not to mention the many donations from craft breweries, sporting gear, local food artisans, etc. And along the way, many Canadians have already stepped up to offer Ned everything from free hotel rooms and meals to cash donations and even opening their own homes.

Every donation helps!

Every donation helps!

But we are only a few weeks in and there are still many kilometers to go so if you are able to support fuel Chefs for Oceans in any way, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. Sometimes it is the smallest things that have a major impact; especially when you build a community such as Ned has. And to everyone that has helped to support Ned’s journey so far, we sincerely thank you for your generous support.

Posted by... katherine on Jul 11, 2014

SeaChoice partners shine in Greenpeace report

By Katherine Dolmage, SeaChoice Market Analyst

BC Coast Credit: John Brouwer

BC Coast Credit: John Brouwer

Last week, Greenpeace Canada released its 2014 retailer report card. SeaChoice is proud to see all of our retail partners receiving passing grades, and most showing improvement over their previous scores.  We are especially proud to see Canada Safeway, SeaChoice partner since 2011, jump into first place in this year’s report. The first place ranking is well deserved, as Safeway has shown strong leadership in their progress towards their sustainable seafood commitment. Sourcing a “Best Choice” private label FAD-free skipjack canned tuna product and bringing Kuterra closed containment Atlantic salmon to market are just two of the many progressive steps Canada Safeway has made.

In addition to highlighting the great work retailers in Canada have been doing, the Greenpeace report shows the work still necessary for retailers in Canada to demonstrate that their seafood supply chains are truly sustainable. All Canadian retailers surveyed still source a number of red-ranked seafood products. Many have not expanded their seafood commitments beyond products for human consumption. Seafood supply chains are notoriously enigmatic, but the public commitments made by Canada’s major retailers to source sustainable seafood products and to ensure their seafood supply is not coming from marine reserves are major steps towards ensuring our oceans thrive and continue to be productive in the future.

Congratulations to the retailers in Canada who have worked to improve their seafood supply chain. We look forward to continuing our retailer work and creating meaningful change on the water.

By Lana Gunnlaugson, National SeaChoice Manager

Prairie fishing Credit: Lana Gunnlaugson

Prairie fishing Credit: Lana Gunnlaugson

Today, for the first time in Canada, two freshwater fish species have been certified as eco-friendly by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC). Both northern pike and walleye from Lake Waterhen, Manitoba have received the MSC check-mark of approval in an effort to help guide consumers in choosing their fish responsibly.

The MSC approved walleye are from an ice fishery that uses gillnets to directly target the walleye, whereas northern pike are caught incidentally alongside the walleye. Both species are managed by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) and the Manitoba Conservation and Water Stewardship (MCWS) and the only eligible fishers are those that are licensed to commercially harvest Lake Waterhen in the winter ice fishery.

In addition to this fishery, the MSC is also currently evaluating Lake Erie’s freshwater fisheries. SeaChoice is also currently undertaking an assessment of several other Manitoba lakes as part of our effort to help Canadians better understand wild harvest freshwater fish options. As a Prairie girl from northern Saskatchewan, I am excited for the first two Canadian freshwater fish to be approved through the MSC certification, and I look forward to seeing the results of the SeaChoice assessments that are scheduled to be public later this year.

Depending on where you live in the Prairies and throughout central Canada for that matter, it can be challenging to find eco-friendly options when it comes to choosing seafood. Finding local freshwater products that are sustainable is exciting news as it can help to shift the demand away from unsustainably harvested fish towards local and eco-friendly options. Making these efforts today to support healthier oceans, lakes and rivers will be essential in moving forward.

With the fifth Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report released earlier this spring, it is timely to note that in this year’s report, scientists have prioritized their focus on two key areas: global food protection and freshwater resources. The effects of climate change on both our oceans and freshwater resources can already be seen globally as well as here in Canada. From acidifying water linked to killing off 10 million scallops on Vancouver Island earlier this year, to depleting invaluable freshwater resources globally, it is becoming more and more apparent how important it is to support healthy oceans and freshwater bodies. Shifting the demand for sustainable fishing and aquaculture practices is one easy way for us all to protect our oceans, lakes and rivers.

Posted by... lana on Jun 17, 2014

Chefs for Oceans

By Lana Gunnlaugson, National SeaChoice Manager

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Chefs for Oceans

Over the past few months, the buzz around the Chefs for Oceans tour has been ramping up. And two weeks today, Chef Ned Bell’s dream of riding his bike across Canada is becoming a reality. Ned launches his tour in St. John’s, Newfoundland on Canada Day and his journey is expected to reach Vancouver, British Columbia, on September 12.

I have known Ned over the years, and his passion for raising awareness around healthy oceans has always been incredibly motivating for anyone that works with him. But the Chefs for Oceans tour and the energy that has gone into making this dream a reality is truly inspiring. In this morning’s media conference, Ned shared his Chefs for Oceans goal “to have sustainable seafood accessible to every Canadian within the next decade.”

He continued to explain this morning, that Chefs for Oceans is not just about him, but rather all chefs and the power they all have in influencing the shift towards a sustainable seafood supply in Canada. “Two thirds of all seafood is consumed in restaurants, so chefs have a really unique opportunity to spread the spread message,” said Chef Ned Bell. Whether it is choosing the ingredients on their menus responsibly, raising sustainable seafood awareness with their customers and staff, or by supporting sustainable seafood programs such as SeaChoice or the Vancouver Aquarium’s Ocean Wiseprogram.

Lana Gunnlaugson & Chef Ned Bell

Lana Gunnlaugson & Chef Ned Bell

I personally am thrilled about Chefs for Oceans and I look forward to joining Ned in many of the cities across Canada. We hope you will join us on this exciting journey by spreading the word, attending the events – even riding with Ned Bell in a city near you! To learn more visit the website for a full list of events, news and opportunities to get involved. Thanks Canada!

Posted by... lana on May 22, 2014

Become an Afishionado: Sustainable Seafood Choices

Guest blog by Andrea Moore via Fix.com

Fish is in high demand as a superfood rich in omega-3 fatty acids, but the oceans may not be able to keep up the supply because of unsustainable fishing practices. Learn how your seafood choices can meet the ocean’s health goals as well as your own.

Here fishy fishy

If you’ve ever gone fishing, you’ll know the number-one thing to bring along is patience. Hours of planning, bait selection (see Mike Cork’s article for just a taste), jigging, and drifting can result in little more than hot dogs on the plate at the end of the day. So it’s almost inconceivable that supermarkets across the world can be fully stocked with seafood all the time. How is that even possible? Well, the fishing industry has a few tricks up its sleeve, and some of them are dirty.

A fisheries tale

Years ago, when fish were plentiful, it wasn’t that hard for skilled fishermen to supply their families and the morning markets with enough seafood to satisfy. In 1950, world fish utilization for human food supply was just under 20 million tonnes. But as the demand for seafood increased, fishermen had to use new methods to keep up. Technological and scientific advances gave them bigger ships with more storage; better nets, traps, and trawls; and a less mysterious ocean due to sonar and fish biology research. Steam forward 60 years to 2010, and fish utilization for human food supply was almost 130 million tonnes, plus 20 million tonnes for non-food uses. We really like our fish, and no wonder with all of those tasty health benefits, but at what cost?

Sustainable Seafood - World Fish Consumption For Human Food Supply

About those dirty tricks

While those new technologies clearly increased catches of targeted fish species, some of them also increased catches of non-target species – bycatch – and damaged habitats along the way. Now juvenile fishes, turtles, birds, and non-commercially-valuable fishes were being killed too. I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t be as impressed with my friend’s 30-pounder if he had dragged a net through a whole lake, dumped everything on the dock, and sorted through it until he found the biggest one, having destroyed the entire ecosystem along the way.

What about fish farming?

Fishing became so efficient that 85 percent of marine fish stocks are now either fully exploited, overexploited, depleted, or recovering from depletion. This leaves only 15 percent with room for growth (and it ain’t salmon or tuna). Fishing like this isn’t sustainable, so we’ve turned to farming to bring the fish to us. It looks great on paper, but as with livestock, there are numerous problems with disease and pollution that need to be considered and carefully controlled.

Sustainable Seafood - World Fish Stock Status (2008)

The great news

It hasn’t been pretty thus far, but the tides can still turn. There are a lot of sustainable fisheries out there, including farms. There are certification programs for sustainable aquaculture (Aquaculture Stewardship Council) and sustainable seafood in general (Marine Stewardship Council) as well as lists of recommendations (Seafood Watch and SeaChoice). I use the three Ts to choose seafood. Almost every type of fish can be a great choice or one to avoid depending on the territory in which it’s caught and the fishing technique being used. Let’s see how this boils down for two popular fishes: salmon and tuna.

Sustainable Seafood - Best Choices and Fish To Avoid

So, farmed salmon with few exceptions is a poor choice and tuna caught by troll and pole is a universally great choice, except for bluefin tuna, which should be avoided no matter what. I can remember that.

All together now

Fishermen are trying, scientists are trying, all we need is the citizen army to make “sustainable” as sought-after in the seafood section as “organic” is in the rest of the supermarket.

Search MSC’s shopping database before you head to the store, print out Seafood Watch’s pocket guide or use its app, and check out fish2fork to find a restaurant. Seek out and support fishermen, companies, supermarkets, and restaurants that deal in sustainable seafood, and ask the others why they don’t. If you’re a real afishionado, you might even find a community-supported fishery like Off the Hook to support.

Patience is a virtue when it comes to fishing, but if we don’t up the impatience now, we’ll end up eating hot dogs far more than we care to.

Posted by... lana on May 15, 2014

Chefs for Oceans

By Lana Gunnlaugson, National SeaChoice Manager

Chef Ned Bell

Chef Ned Bell

Chef Ned Bell is set to embark on the journey of a lifetime this Canada Day when his “Chefs for Oceans” bike tour kicks off. The tour begins in St. John’s Newfoundland and will go from community to community across the country, finishing in Vancouver on September 11.

But this is no ordinary tour. The Chefs for Oceans tour is dedicated to raising awareness for sustainable seafood and supporting healthy lakes, rivers and oceans. With fourteen events across the country, Chefs for Oceans will bring together chefs and seafood lovers from coast to coast.

Chef Bell believes that, by choosing our seafood responsibly, Canadians have the power to shift demand towards sustainable seafood. As a result, the seafood supply in Canada would shift towards sustainably harvested options. Overfishing is one of the biggest issues our oceans face, so smart seafood choices can have a huge impact on maintaining healthy lakes, rivers, and oceans.

Donate $10 to the tour and get a can of sustainable tuna!

Donate $10 to the tour and get a can of sustainable tuna!

After working with Chef Bell over the years, I am so honoured to be joining him on his journey. Ned’s dedication to championing ocean issues is truly inspiring. On behalf of the SeaChoice and Vancouver Aquarium’s Ocean Wise™ program, we hope that Canadians will join the journey in support of healthy oceans.

To learn more about how you can get involved, or to support Ned as he passes through a community near you, please visit www.chefsforoceans.com. Thank you for your support and for spreading the word!

 

Posted by... lana on May 13, 2014

A Spot Prawn Tail

By Lana Gunnlaugson, National SeaChoice Manager

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Spot prawn traps

May marks an exciting month for foodies on the West Coast with the opening of the BC spot prawn fishery and the annual Spot Prawn Festival, hosted by the BC Chefs’ Table Society. Until recently, this local gem was hidden from all but a few lucky West Coasters – with nearly the entire catch going overseas.

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BC Spot Prawns

Eight years ago, spot prawn fishers from Organic Ocean joined Chef Robert Clark to host the inaugural Spot Prawn Festival at Vancouver’s Fisherman’s’ Wharf. The event, hosted on the second Saturday in May, has helped to create a local market for the spot prawns. Along with tastings and cooking demos by local chefs, the event gives visitors the opportunity to buy live prawns fresh off the boat- something Vancouverites love.

And what’s not to love?! BC spot prawns are sweet, succulent, local and of course a SeaChoice “Best Choice.”

Organic Ocean, Me, Chef Clark & Chef Bell

Organic Ocean, Me, Chef Clark & Chef Bell

Enjoy them simply as is, lightly sautéed, or even on the grill. But don’t delay – the season only lasts a short 6-8 weeks!

Posted by... lana on May 7, 2014

Chef for Oceans

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