Posted by... Lana Brandt on Aug 16, 2016

The Big Carrot’s Sustainable Seafood Commitment

Guest blog by Maureen Kirkpatrick, The Big Carrot

Big Carrot“Do you carry sustainable seafood?” is the most impactful question you can ask your grocer or chef when it comes to protecting our ocean resources according to Seafood Watch…at The Big Carrot, you don’t even need to ask. Here’s why…

5 things you may not know about our Sustainable Seafood Commitment:

1.    We do not carry any red ranked seafood

2.    Our seafood only comes in two colours: green and yellow

3.    Our commitment extends from fresh fillets to frozen fish sticks

4.    Our tinned tuna is the tops

5.    Transparency and reporting is key to our progress

The Big Carrot has a long-standing commitment to offering the most environmentally sustainable seafood choices available in the market. Central to our commitment is our partnership with SeaChoice, dating back to 2010. SeaChoice is Canada’s most comprehensive sustainable seafood program offering viable solutions for healthy oceans to both businesses and shoppers. This partnership supports our ability to maintain complete and transparent information about our seafood products.

Understanding the traffic light and why we always STOP at red!

SeaChoice uses the green, yellow and red colour system to help make it easy for Canadians to make responsible seafood choices. SeaChoice works in close collaboration with the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s acclaimed Seafood Watch program and undertakes science-based seafood assessments. Many factors are considered before a ranking is determined including the fishery, habitat, species and management. 

Green means:

Buy first, this seafood is well-managed, abundant, and caught or farmed in environmentally sustainable ways.       

Yellow means:

Buy, but be aware there are conservation concerns with the current populations or practices in this fishery.

Red means “Avoid”

Don’t buy, they’re overfished or caught or farmed in ways that harm other marine life or the environment. 

At The Big Carrot, our Sustainable Seafood Commitment offers our customers peace of mind – knowing that all of our fresh, frozen seafood and tinned salmon and tuna fall under the “Yellow”and “Green” SeaChoice rankings. We do not carry any seafood ranked as “Avoid” by SeaChoice.

With over 75 per cent of the world’s fisheries either fully fished or overfished our conscious consumption of seafood is critical. Together, at The Big Carrot we are making an impact by choosing green and yellow ranked seafood. From our annual SeaChoice Report, which reviewed The Big Carrot’s 2015 procurement and sales, here’s how we are doing as compared to the Canadian seafood market at large.

2015 marked an expansion of our formal Sustainable Seafood commitment to include our tinned seafood. Extending our commitment into the center aisles of the grocery store is meaningful when you consider that much of the tuna on Canadian supermarket shelves is still caught by destructive methods.

Here is how the tins stack up:

Every year, Greenpeace ranks 14 of the largest tuna companies in Canada and you will be happy to see that our tuna brands Raincoast Trading and Wild Planet ranked in the top two positions respectively.

Kurtis Hayne of SeaChoice summarized our efforts in the Annual Report as follows: “The Big Carrot’s Sustainable Seafood Policy to sell only green or yellow-ranked fresh, frozen, and canned seafood for 2015 has been a huge success. This commitment and its successful execution to only source sustainable seafood is a great feat, and places The Big Carrot among a unique tier of SeaChoice retailer partners.” This report provides us with not only a clear snapshot of what we have achieved to date but also the ability to envision where we can do more. In the coming year our goal is to move, where possible, from yellow-ranked to green-ranked species, and add some new green-ranked species.

As with any sustainability initiative, we cannot do it without our most active partner~ our shoppers. We know you want to make your food dollars count and we want to make that as simple and straightforward as possible by providing you excellent options and the information you need to make meaningful choices.

Posted by... Lana Brandt on Jul 25, 2016

SeaChoice celebrates ten years of sustainable seafood success!

WebFor ten years, SeaChoice staff and member organizations have worked with Canadians to make better seafood decisions in support of healthier oceans. From our efforts with businesses, fishers, producers, suppliers, chefs and everyday seafood lovers, SeaChoice has helped to shift the seafood supply towards more sustainable procurement in Canada.

Our business team has worked with major grocer partners across the country to replace red-listed “Avoid” seafood with sustainable solutions. Partners Big Carrot and Buy-Low Foods have successfully achieved their sustainable seafood commitments by replacing all red-listed seafood and partner Canada Safeway just recently announced achieving 97% of their seafood commitment with concrete next steps to replacing the remaining product required in achieving their goal.

On behalf of our team at SeaChoice, we thank you for your ongoing support over the years and for helping to make responsible seafood choices. We look forward to our continued work in support of healthier oceans!


[DIGBY, NOVA SCOTIA] – Marking a first for Nova Scotia, a trial commercial diver-caught scallop fishery has been approved by Fisheries & OceansScallop Canada (DFO), and is set to begin on July 16th, 2016. SeaChoice Member, the Ecology Action Centre (EAC) has been working regularly with DFO and fishing industry partners in Nova Scotia over the past four years to help make this trial fishery a reality.

“We were seeing local restaurants selling diver-caught scallops, but they were sourcing them from Mexico. We realized that there was an incredible opportunity to have this product harvested in Nova Scotia, and have it available here and for export, as part of meeting the growing demand for traceable and sustainably harvested seafood.” says Justin Cantafio, Sustainable Fisheries Campaigner with the EAC.

“In SeaChoice’s retail and supplier partnerships across Canada, we see a growing demand for sustainable seafood. Nova Scotia has an excellent opportunity to meet that increasing demand through smaller scale, but high value fisheries like these.” says Colleen Turlo, the EAC’s representative to SeaChoice, Canada’s sustainable seafood program.

The trial fishery will take place in St. Mary’s Bay, and offers a new opportunity for commercial divers to extend their fishing season using a low-impact and selective fishing method to catch scallops outside of their commercial urchin diving season. This fishery will also contribute to sustainable livelihoods and economic development in the Digby region. “This type of initiative is an excellent way of increasing the value of a fishery resource, without increasing the actual amount harvested.” says Cantafio. “We’ve been working with various value chain members, from processors to retailers, to ensure that there is a demand for this product, and the demand for diver-caught scallops has been so high that there are commitments to buying catches for several years, in advance.”

The pilot project will harvest 2.5 tonnes—approximately 5,500pounds—with the season closing at the end of September. The quota to be used is from Scallop diverthe existing allocation for the fishery, and will be fished by a local team of commercial diver fishermen. The concept for the fishery was also presented to the Inshore Scallop Advisory Committee, before final approval by DFO. “Having been a resident of Nova Scotia for a number of years, I know the high quality of the scallops that grow in the Bay of Fundy, and I know that our customers would fully support a diver-caught product that was harvested in a manner that respected the premium quality of the seafood and the marine ecosystem from which they’re sourced.” says Dan Donovan, owner of Hooked Inc., a premium seafood retail and distribution company based in Toronto.

For More Information:
Lana Brandt, SeaChoice 604-732-4228 (1289)


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 8, 2016 (Vancouver and Halifax)

Screen Shot 2016-06-07 at 5.42.30 PMOn World Oceans Day, a new report released from SeaChoice clearly finds that Canada should do more to protect oceans and the food they provide. The organization, which is celebrating its 10-year anniversary, released today the first major assessment of the sustainability of all of Canada’s seafood imports and exports. The report, Taking Stock: Sustainable Seafood in Canadian Markets, is part of SeaChoice’s work to promote and highlight sustainable seafood choices in Canadian grocery stores.

“While we are celebrating the growing support for sustainable seafood among Canadians, along with increased fisheries assessments, the report’s findings show there are still obstacles to supporting healthy oceans,” said Karen Wristen from the Living Oceans Society.

The report found:

  • Weak government labelling and traceability requirements have made Canadian seafood assessments impossible for many species.
  • Tropical farmed shrimp, farmed open net-pen salmon and skipjack tuna caught with harmful gear were the top three “red-listed” or “avoid” fish imported into Canada (by volume).
  • Open net-pen Atlantic salmon is Canada’s most exported red-listed fish.
  • Only 16 per cent of the seafood in Canada is considered “Best Choice” by SeaChoice.

Many groups have contributed to sustainable seafood gains, namely the Conservation Alliance for Seafood Solutions and its 30 collaborators and members, which include the Marine Stewardship Council, Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch, Ocean Wise and SeaChoice.

“Increasing the profile of sustainable seafood would not have been possible without the efforts of collaborators, members, major retailers, suppliers, seafood consumers, chefs and fishing and aquaculture industries,” said Bill Wareham, Western Canada science manager at the David Suzuki Foundation, a SeaChoice member.

SeaChoice was created in 2006 to help Canadian businesses and seafood lovers support sustainable fisheries and aquaculture throughout the supply chain. Huge strides have been made over the past decade.

“Last year, SeaChoice partner Buy-Low Foods was the first major retailer in North America to replace all unsustainable red-listed seafood with sustainable alternatives,” said Wareham.

SeaChoice has also contributed to fisheries and aquaculture reforms. In 2011, members worked to improve the Canadian groundfish trawl fishery, which has spurred trawl improvements around the world. SeaChoice also supported innovative aquaculture solutions such as the closed-containment, land-based Kuterra salmon, sold exclusively through SeaChoice partner Canada Safeway.

“While oceans continue to face numerous threats globally, the sustainable seafood community is doing its part to make them healthier,” Susanna Fuller, SeaChoice Member from the Ecology Action Centre said. “One of the best ways to protect oceans is to support seafood that is caught in environmentally and socially responsible ways. If we continue to expand sustainable seafood’s share of the market, people can enjoy seafood while leaving a smaller footprint on the planet for generations to come.”


SeaChoice, Canada’s most comprehensive sustainable seafood program, focuses on solutions for healthy oceans. SeaChoice is operated by the David Suzuki Foundation, Ecology Action Centre and Living Oceans Society. Launched in 2006, SeaChoice was created to help Canadian businesses and shoppers take an active role in supporting sustainable fisheries and aquaculture at all levels of the seafood supply chain. SeaChoice has created easy-to-use, science-based tools that help consumers make the best seafood choices. For more information, visit

For more information, contact:

Lana Brandt, SeaChoice, 778-833-2954

Bill Wareham, Western Canada Science Manager, David Suzuki Foundation, 604-928-1150

Karen Wristen, Executive Director, Living Oceans Society, 604-788-5634

Susanna D. Fuller, Senior Marine Conservation Coordinator, Ecology Action Centre, 902-483-5033

Background: Taking Stock: Canada’s Sustainable Seafood Markets

  • A lack of government-required labelling and tracking for exported and imported seafood makesassessing the sustainability of many seafood products impossible.
  • Over 30 per cent (by volume) of seafood imported into Canada is reported with insufficient specificity to allow for sustainability rankings.
  • Sixteen per cent of all seafood (by volume) produced in Canada is ranked green (Best Choice), 61 per cent is ranked yellow (Some Concerns), 14 per cent is red (Avoid) and nine per cent is unranked.
  • Canada assesses 48 per cent of its fish stocks to be “healthy”, a significantly different finding from this analysis.
  • Red-ranked seafood produced by volume in Canada is primarily farmed open-net pen salmon (72 per cent), with the remaining 28 per cent from fisheries including Atlantic cod; Atlantic hake; Manitoba freshwater pickerel, whitefish and perch; Atlantic Pollock; Atlantic swordfish; tuna and Atlantic cusk.
  • Canada has a trade surplus when it comes to sustainable seafood. We export more sustainable seafood than we import.
  • Only 11 per cent of seafood available in Canada is listed as green.
  • Imported red-ranked seafood includes farmed shrimp, farmed salmon and skipjack tuna.
  • SeaChoice retailer partner sales data indicate that 23 per cent of seafood is from green sources, 66 per cent from yellow and nine per cent from red ranked sources. This shows that SeaChoice retail partners source a higher percentage of green ranked seafood than is available, on average, across Canada.
  • Approximately 80 per cent (by value) and 67 per cent (by volume) of Canadian wild-caught fisheries are certified by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) and have conditions in place to improve sustainability.
  • Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) certifications are growing on the Pacific andAtlantic coasts, with five farms certified and seven within the certification process as of April 2016.

Report Recommendations

1. To improve seafood sustainability tracking in Canada and the effectiveness of market-based approaches:

  • Canada should require government agencies to improve seafood labelling and reporting of fisheries and aquaculture products by requiring species level identifications.
  • ENGOs assisting with sustainable seafood procurements should adopt a shared data gathering tool to track program effectiveness.

2. To eliminate red-ranked seafood and increase availability of green-ranked seafood as well as address human rights abuses in seafood production:

  • Canadian retailers, food-service companies and restaurants should continue to avoid buying red-ranked seafood.
  • Canada should support traceability requirements as a part of sustainability assessments and examine human rights abuses in the seafood supply chain.
  • Focus should be on improving practices or restricting imports from red-ranked fisheries within and outside of Canada.

3. To ensure that eco-certification programs are credible, aligned with Canadian law and policy and result in improved fisheries sustainability, including impacts on target species and impacts of fishing on the ecosystem, we recommend:

  • Canadian fisheries certified by the MSC meet conditions within a reasonable timeframe, with MSC conditions that are consistent with Canadian laws and policies relating to sustainable fisheries and marine biodiversity protection, and with a particular focus on species assessed by COSEWIC and considered at risk.
  • ASC certifications, particularly with reference to the Salmon Standard, should not undermine wild salmon management and must uphold a high standard for disease and pathogen control.
Posted by... Lana Brandt on Jun 2, 2016

Canada Safeway receives an A+ on seafood Sustainability

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE (Vancouver, B.C.) June 2, 2016Web

In 2011, Canada Safeway made an important commitment to shift their procurement of fresh and frozen seafood to sustainable sources. Over the past five years Canada Safeway has worked diligently towards this goal and 92 per cent of seafood sold was from sustainable sources as of the end of 2015. This marks a large improvement from 2012 where only 51 per cent of seafood sold met Safeway’s commitment.

Canada Safeway partnered with SeaChoice in 2011 as part of their corporate social responsibility mandate. The core of Canada Safeway’s policy stated that by 2015, all fresh and frozen seafood will be sourced from sustainable sources, or be in a credible improvement project.

SeaChoice congratulates Canada Safeway for achieving 92 per cent of their seafood commitment. “Canada Safeway made a robust sustainable seafood commitment and they have demonstrated true leadership in the major grocer world by making such significant progress towards their commitment,” said Karen Wristen, SeaChoice member and Executive Director from the Living Oceans Society.

Many red-listed species including Russian king crab, shark, barramundi, and squid have been completely eliminated, leaving only a few species such as salmon and rockfish. The transition of remaining red-listed species is well underway – red-ranked farmed salmon is being replaced by green ranked land-based farmed Kuterra salmon and Safeway is working towards only sourcing yellow ranked Canadian rockfish. “Canada Safeway has made great progress by investing in innovative solutions to complex seafood issues and we are pleased to have concrete next steps in removing the remaining 8 per cent of unranked and red-listed seafood,” said Jason Bater, Seafood Category Manager for Thrifty Foods.

Posted by... Lana Brandt on May 24, 2016

Celebrating sustainable shellfish and seafood in B.C.

By Lana Brandt, National SeaChoice Manager

BCSF-2015-LogoJust weeks after the 10th anniversary celebration for the B.C. Spot Prawn Festival, SeaChoice will be joining the 10th annual B.C. Shellfish and Seafood Festival in Comox Valley on June 9-10. The entire festival runs for 11 days with non-stop seafood tours, educational sessions, and of course seafood tastings to celebrate and showcase B.C.’s growing aquaculture industry.

Aquaculture plays an important role in meeting the world’s growing demand for seafood. Although some fish farming has received criticism over the years, there are many sustainably farmed seafood choices that do exist. There also continues to be many innovative solutions for improving the aquaculture industry, such as closed containment technology for farmed salmon.

During the festival, there will be many informative seminars on key issues such as the status of wild Pacific salmon, sustainability certification programs, and consumer trends in the consumption of seafood.

I look forward to joining these conversations while meeting new suppliers, producers, and chefs that all share the common goal of building sustainable aquaculture opportunities in British Columbia.

Posted by... Lana Brandt on May 2, 2016

Ten years of B.C. Spot Prawn Celebrations

By Lana Brandt, National SeaChoice ManagerSpot prawns

As the calendar turns to May, I get excited every year for the local B.C. Spot Prawn Festival where the community comes together at the False Creek Fisherman’s Wharf to celebrate this “Best Choice” local fishery. I’ve been at every festival since the beginning, and it is amazing to see how support has grown with local Vancouverites for the spot prawn season. What used to be a simple prawn boil down at the wharf has turned into a fun community festival with local chefs, music, cooking demos and more. Don’t delay in getting tickets for your spot prawn boil, as tickets will be sure to sell out quickly!

This year in honour of the tenth anniversary, there will also be a few other spot prawn events. You won’t want to miss the six course B.C. spot prawn gala with appetizers and dessert (menu below) on May 13 with some of Canada’s top chefs. There will also be cooking lessons on May 14 at the Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts for anyone looking to learn tasty new ways for preparing this local delicacy.

Be sure to stop by and say hello to the SeaChoice team at the festival and enjoy the spot prawn season while it lasts!

spf gala menu with tix info

Posted by... Lana Brandt on Apr 18, 2016

Is your seafood traceable?

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