Posted by... lana on Sep 30, 2015

Making waves with MSC

Coal Harobour winter day Vancovuer BCGuest Blog By Catharine Grant, SeaChoice Member from the Ecology Action Centre

The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) is the largest fisheries eco-certification in the world. MSC’s goal is to promote sustainable fishing practices around the world and to encourage continuous improvement within certified fisheries. MSC has had great success in Canada: more than 80 per cent of Canadian fisheries (by weight) are now MSC certified.

Because of MSC’s influence on our fisheries, and its increasingly wide recognition in the marketplace, SeaChoice will be dedicating resources toward engagement with fisheries that are currently MSC certified or in the MSC assessment process. While MSC has brought about improvements in some fisheries, we believe that it can do more to encourage better practices particularly related to bycatch mitigation and ecosystem/habitat protection.

Because our member organizations have in-depth knowledge of fisheries science, as well as Canadian fisheries policy, SeaChoice is well placed to provide expert input into MSC assessments. We will also monitor fisheries that are already certified to ensure that requirements for improvement (through certification conditions and annual milestones) are met.

To date this year, SeaChoice has submitted comments on MSC assessments for Atlantic halibut, Atlantic herring, 3Ps cod, northwest Atlantic swordfish, northern shrimp and 3LN redfish, as well as met with MSC assessment teams to discuss a wide range of issues related to fisheries sustainability. We have also had ongoing dialogue with MSC staff about how to bring about improvements within the system. We believe that by engaging in MSC processes, and securing good outcomes in certified fisheries, we can help grow Canada’s supply of sustainable seafood.



Posted by... lana on Sep 21, 2015

Slow Fish Dinner is Back

By Lana Brandt, National SeaChoice Manager

photo1Last September B.C. introduced the inaugural Slow Fish mystery dinner to the Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts (PICA) and with great success, Slow Fish is coming back on Sunday, September 27. This year the dinner is not a mystery and the menu is now complete with sustainable seafood features from eight top chefs. Check it out!

  • Chef Ned Bell, YEW seafood + bar

Skipper Otto Ling Cod Tacos with Bacon Lime Aioli

(Tinhorn Creek Oldfield Series 2Bench White)

  • Chef Andrea Carlson, Burdock & Co

Wild Gooseneck Barnacles with Wild Rice and Belle de Boskoop Apples

(Covert Farms 2014 Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon)

  • Chef Robert Clark, The Fish Counter

Rick Burns Pickled Salmon with Helmer’s Organic Farm Potato Salad and TFC Saffron Ailoli

(Haywire Switchback Vineyard Pinot Gris)

  • Chef Scott Jaeger, The Pear Tree

Outlandish Shellfish Guild Scallops

(2013 Sage Hills Syrah Rose)

  • photo4Chef Greg McCallum, L’Abattoir

Sea Urchin Royale – a Delicate Custard Seasoned with Smoked Kelp served with Grilled Pine Mushrooms

(See Ya Later Ranch Pinot Noir)

  • Chef Alana Peckham, Alligga

Pan Seared Sustainable Seas Traceable Halibut with Moso Wakame Puree Orange Soy Espuma and Sesame Bok Choy

(Kalala 2013 Gewurztraminer)

  • Chef Dino Renaerts, Bon Vivant Catering

Squid Ink Risotto with Geoduck Lightly Cured with Olive Oil & Lemon

(vidPerdu 2014 Pinot Gris)

  • Chef Chris Whittaker, Forage

Grilled Pacific Octopus with Chickpeas, Charred Lemon and Glorious Organics Beets and Arugula

(Inniskillin Chardonnay)

Tphoto7here will also be canapes from the Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts’ Students and dessert from Bella Gelateria!

Don’t miss out on getting your tickets as they won’t last long!! Click here to buy your ticket for $89.


Posted by... lana on Sep 11, 2015

What’s in your canned tuna?

By Lana Brandt, National SeaChoice Manager

SeaChoice-ad-Back-to-SchoolTuna is one of Canada’s favourite fish to enjoy and canned tuna is a common staple for many households as it is often an easy and affordable protein to prepare. Unfortunately not all canned tuna is created equally. The growing demand for tuna has pushed many species to become threatened. Some of the fishing techniques used to catch tuna also involve destructive practices that harm other species. Purse seine fishing fleets often set giant nets around floating objects referred to a Fishing Aggregating Devices (FADs) are used to attract tuna, but unfortunately they also catch many other species including sharks, rays, and sea turtles.

In 2011, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) reported that yellowfin, skipjack, bigeye, and albacore tuna are the most commonly found tuna species in canned tuna. Unfortunately three of these species are near threatened or are threatened. By continuing to demand these unsustainable species found in canned tuna, these species are all at risk to become extinct.

So what’s in your canned tuna? Luckily Greenpeace Canada has created both a handy tuna ranking and smart phone app to help Canadians determine how sustainable their canned tuna is. Take a moment and use these recommendations with the SeaChoice guide to help you make smarter tuna choices when dining out and shopping at your grocery store.


Posted by... lana on Aug 11, 2015

SeaChoice stands strong behind eco-label

By Lana Gunnlaugson, National SeaChoice Manager

Seachoice-FB-postcard-finalEarlier this week, SeaChoice announced in a media release the discontinuation of our partnership with Overwaitea Food Group (OFG). They were Canada’s first major retailer to partner with an environmental group and it is the first partnership to be terminated. Throughout the week there has been some media coverage on the issue, which has asked the reason why SeaChoice ended one of their more prominent partnerships. I am writing this blog to clarify the messaging and to state publically that SeaChoice and its four member organizations stand strong behind the SeaChoice eco-label.

When SeaChoice signs a sustainable seafood partnership with a major retailer, this involves an in-depth collaboration agreement that outlines six essential steps for retailers to take in operating a sustainable seafood program. These include making a public commitment, collecting data, buying environmentally responsible seafood, being transparent about seafood sourcing, educating staff and consumers, and supporting reform of unsustainable fisheries. 

SeaChoice stands strong behind our eco-label so that we can help Canadians make informed decisions when purchasing seafood. We encourage Canadians to ask more questions about where their seafood is really coming from.
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2009 Overwaitea partnership with SeaChoice Credit: Lana Gunnlaugson

2009 Overwaitea partnership with SeaChoice Credit: Lana Gunnlaugson

After six years of working together on a sustainable seafood program, SeaChoice announced today, with regret, the end of its sustainable seafood partnership with Overwaitea Food Group (OFG).

SeaChoice chose not to continue its partnership with OFG because certain terms and objectives of their sustainable seafood program with OFG were no longer being realized. This is the first SeaChoice/retailer partnership to be terminated. OFG was the first major Canadian retailer to develop a sustainable seafood policy and publicly profile sustainable seafood with SeaChoice in its stores in 2009.

SeaChoice promotes sustainable seafood programs based on the Conservation Alliance for Seafood Solution’s Common Vision, which outline six key steps for retailers to take in operating a sustainable seafood program. These include making a public commitment, collecting data, buying environmentally responsible seafood, being transparent, educating staff and consumers, and supporting reform of unsustainable fisheries.

SeaChoice believes that making measurable progress toward these six steps is paramount for retailers in the effort to reduce, and eventually eliminate, the risk of seafood mislabelling or seafood from illegal and unregulated sources entering the Canadian marketplace.

Working with businesses is a primary objective of SeaChoice’s work, which has catalyzed solutions to some of Canada’s biggest sustainable seafood challenges. SeaChoice will continue to support its other retailer partners, including Buy Low Foods, Nesters, Federated Cooperatives Limited and Safeway Operations – Sobeys Inc. in reaching their sustainable seafood commitments. SeaChoice also works directly with fisheries striving to operate using sustainable practices.

Posted by... lana on Aug 4, 2015

Browse our Seafood Database

Discover in-depth SeaChoice “Best Choice” solutions!


Guest Blog By Scott Wallace, Senior Research Scientist

Credit Alexandra Moss (Flickr)

Credit Alexandra Moss (Flickr)

Few Canadians know that the largest fishery on B.C.’s coast is for Pacific hake. Although it’s a food-grade fish, the federal government granted permission last week, for the first time in nearly 30 years, to allow catches to be converted into fish meal.

Hake is a schooling fish related to the more commonly known haddock and cod. The Canadian hake fishery this year is allowed to catch 114,000 metric tonnes, equivalent to about a billion meal servings. Over the past decade most of B.C.’s hake was sold to Russia, but an economic embargo of Canadian products into Russia means B.C.’s hake can’t be sold to this market. Because the B.C. hake industry products and market are not diversified, the solution for this year’s catch is to sell it to a reduction plant, where food-grade hake is ground to make fish meal, most likely for farmed Atlantic salmon.

Under the Fisheries Act, it is illegal to use fish in this manner unless the fisheries minister grants an exemption. On July 24, Fisheries and Oceans Minister Gail Shea granted such an exemption to the hake fishery, allowing it to convert about half its allocation— or 55, 000 tonnes (equivalent of roughly 55,000 pickup trucks full of fish) — into food for other agricultural products.

Although the amount of fish being taken might be sustainable from a biological yield perspective, the conversion of food fish to fish feed is unsustainable in a resource-constrained world where over a billion people live in extreme poverty. While the Ministry of Fisheries and Oceans stated that the exemption is a one-year exceptional measure, we should not permit this type of fishing in Canadian waters under any circumstance. With the price of fish meal continually climbing, converting fish into meal is an increasingly attractive proposition for fisheries — first hake, then herring, dogfish or any fish that isn’t selling in the global market.

Hake stocks are healthy and the fishery is well-managed, with a Marine Stewardship certification issued last year. So does it matter what the end use is? Whether the fish is eaten directly or converted into fish meal and then fed back to another fish will make no difference to the marine ecosystem. Globally, however, direct human consumption of food is the most efficient use in the midst of limited resources. The conversion into fish meal requires additional energy: fossil fuels to grow, produce and transport the end product. The amount of fish being granted an exemption could produce 500 million seafood servings. (Canada health guide suggests that 75 grams of seafood make up a serving.)

Seafood is often seen as a luxury product, but many high-volume global fish products are sold for pennies per kilogram. Pacific hake will be sold at 18 cents a kilogram this summer (compared to halibut, which sells for at least 100 times more).

While it is unfortunate that a sustainable fishery has been economically affected by an international trade issue beyond its control, it does highlight a major problem with how we consume seafood in Canada and in developed countries in general. Hake should be a good bet for Canadian and global seafood markets. The U.S. fishery, which can catch three times as much as Canada’s, has a diversified fishery whose products are sold for human consumption. If caught and processed properly, hake is firm and sweet and tasty when prepared with garlic and olive oil.

The minister made the exemption without public discussion. It was opposed by the Nuu-chah-nulth First Nations, who were not consulted despite the federal government’s legal obligation to do so.

The future benefits of letting the fish simply swim for a year and contribute to the ecosystem in which the fishery is embedded were never considered. The minister’s decision should be revoked and public discussion should be made an essential part of decisions involving these kinds of exemptions.

Posted by... lana on Jun 26, 2015

Grill something Green

By Lana Gunnlaugson, National SeaChoice Manager

Summer is officially here and Canadians across the country are firing up their barbeques. Preparing your meals in the backyard or on the patio is the perfect way to escape the kitchen heat in the summer while reconnecting with friends and family over casual meals. Try spicing up your barbeque routine with one of the many SeaChoice green “Best Choice” options. And in celebration of Canada Day be sure to choose green-listed “Best Choice” seafood year-round instead of the red-listed “Avoid” options to celebrate and support the sustainable options that exist in Canada. A few great Canadian barbequing ingredients include Pacific cod, B.C. Spot Prawns, farmed sturgeon, and even oysters right in their shell!

For some grilling tips and recipe inspiration check out Chef Dale MacKay’s featured recipes in our partner Federated Co-operatives Limited flyer. There are also many grilled seafood recipes in the SeaChoice Recipe Corner to help you out, but don’t forget to have fun and get creative with your own marinades, rubs, smoked wood chips, and more!

On behalf of the SeaChoice team, we wish you a happy and safe Canada Day and summer!






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