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

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 www.SeaChoice.org.

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?

Posted by... Lana Brandt on Mar 17, 2016

Boston or Bust

Guest Blog By Colleen Turlo, SeaChoice Member from the Ecology Action Centre

IMG_20160307_110659_resizedThe Boston Seafood Show (officially known as the Seafood Expo North America) is huge. When I told the US Customs Official that I was going to Boston for a conference, he said, “Ah, the Boston Seafood Show?”

If you work in any realm of the seafood industry, it’s the place to be. As North America’s largest seafood trade exposition, this year held over 1,200 exhibits, and attracted an estimated 30,000 attendees representing over 100 countries. The conference was held at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center, as it is every year, from March 6th – 8th. And two SeaChoice members were there to soak it all in.

20160308_122726_resizedSo, what is a seafood expo anyways? The simple answer is that it’s a place where anyone involved in fisheries and seafood can find something of interest, be it a supplier, processor, retailer, chef, hotelier, academic, government employee, fisherman, NGO, or media. The show floor was full of colourful and impressive booths touting their products and organizations, with samples of everything from traditional New England clam chowder to more exotic fares, like sea urchin sushi. There were oyster shucking competitions, chef-led master classes, educational conferences, panel discussions, receptions, and awards. So, basically, the Boston Seafood Show is an assembly of nearly everyone in North America (and beyond) that is involved in seafood or the fishing industry.

After three days in Boston, what were our main takeaways? Well, one of the things that stood out to me, as a Canadian, was the large Canadian IMG_0142representation on the show floor, with several provinces featured under their unique banners, including British Columbia, Quebec, and each of the Maritime provinces. While it stood out to me, it wasn’t unexpected as the majority of Canadian seafood exports end up in the US market. The Department of Fisheries and Oceans also had a booth at the show, with the Honorable Minister Hunter Tootoo also in attendance, visiting booths and holding private meetings and press conferences.

SeaChoice was fortunate enough to get a short, private meeting with the minister as well. We presented him with some statistics that we have assembled on species available in the Canadian market. This included a list of red-ranked species we need to focus on improving or substituting so that there can be more sustainable options available for consumers to choose from in the future. The Minister noted how important eco-labels are, and how sustainable seafood programs like SeaChoice and Ocean Wise are important in the Canadian seafood landscape to help educate and inform the public, and to work with fisheries and suppliers directly to help increase sustainable seafood options. It was reassuring to hear him say that they recognize how much Canadians care, and that the government cares too – which is why they are planning on reinvesting in science and utilizing the precautionary approach in fisheries management.

The Conservation Alliance for Seafood Solutions also released their new Common Vision for Sustainable Seafood, which is a resource for industry to help companies design and navigate their sustainable seafood goals. The Common Vision was updated from its 2008 version to address social issues and traceability. For more information on the Common Vision update, check out our press release here.

As a non-industry person, I found the seminars and panel discussions at the conference the most interesting, with many topics highlighting the importance of sustainability and traceability within the seafood industry from a variety of perspectives – economic, social, environmental, as well as a facet of industry’s Corporate Social Responsibility when the market or government aren’t able to solve the issues themselves.

An exciting collaborative project was announced in the panel moderated by FishWise – the creation of a responsible sourcing tool to identify low, medium and high risk fisheries in concerns with human trafficking and human rights abuses in the seafood supply chain. Tackling this issue of slavery and human rights is more important now than ever as, according to the panelists, there are currently more slaves than at any other point in our history, with the average price of a slave in 2016 a shocking $90 USD. Identifying the areas of concern through this tool is just the first step. The hardest part will be to come up with solutions on how to deal with them once identified.

Another seminar that got me thinking was hosted by Future of Fish. With 40 per cent of seafood products lost at the retailer-consumer level, they argued that being sustainable at the beginning of the supply chain, but not at the end doesn’t make sense. And I agree. We should be trying to encourage maximum yield from seafood products, and start thinking about the fish as a whole, instead of just the fillet.

Overall, the Boston Seafood Show is quite an impressive event, bringing together thousands of people from all realms of the seafood world under one roof. It was encouraging to see a lot of industry professionals and government representatives acknowledging the importance of sustainable seafood, and enlightening to hear of all the different organizations that are collaborating to incorporate social issues and traceability into their organizational values. However, there are still many organizations and companies that are lagging behind. And that’s why SeaChoice is here; to encourage, motivate, and assist organizations and people on their sustainable seafood journey.

 

Posted by... Lana Brandt on Mar 3, 2016

Support builds for a National Sustainable Seafood Day in Canada

By Lana Brandt, National SeaChoice Manager

DSC_1082Standing in a room with Canada’s Premiers yesterday was not only a great honour, but also a huge milestone in our four-year journey in building support for a National Sustainable Seafood Day in Canada. The three-course sustainable seafood lunch was prepared by Executive Chef Ned Bell of the Vancouver Four Seasons and the lunch was co-hosted by the Marine Stewardship Council, Ocean Wise, SeaChoice and WWF Canada.

In 2012, the motion to designate March 18 as National Sustainable Seafood Day in Canada was tabled in Parliament and in the past four years we have made great strides in building support across the country. With events hosted in Vancouver, Toronto, and on Parliament Hill we have grown our support with seafood lovers and politicians. Over 130 Canadian seafood businesses including major grocers, suppliers and restaurants have also signed a petition in support for a National Sustainable Seafood Day.

Moving forward, we look forward to growing support for making March 18 officially Canada’s National Sustainable Seafood Day. A day dedicated to educating and raising awareness around sustainable seafood will help to protect Canada’s oceans for generations to come. We welcome you to sign the petition in support here.

Chemical Use, Escapes, and Disease Continue to Pose a Threat to the Marine Environment and Endangered Wild Salmon Populations, According to New Seafood Watch Report

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – February 2, 2016Atlantic Salmon - Credit: Bernard Yau www.efishalbum.com

Halifax, NS and Vancouver, BC – Open net-pen Atlantic salmon remains on the “Avoid list after a new assessment outlines the ongoing threats posed by excessive chemical use, high levels of escapes, and the presence of persistent diseases in Atlantic Canadian farms. The Seafood Watch report, completed as part of the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s seafood recommendation program, also assessed farms in North East US, which have scored a “yellow,” or ”Some Concerns” ranking. These differed from Atlantic Canadian farms as they have lower disease outbreaks and the existence of a successful regulatory framework which includes protection for wild Atlantic salmon through a containment management protocol for escapes.

“This report confirms that there are significant problems with Atlantic Canada’s open net-pen finfish farming operations,” says Susanna Fuller of the Ecology Action Centre. “How is it that in Maine – just across the bay – net-pens owned by the same company have less disease and such fewer escapes? This very clearly indicates that the lack of regulations here in Canada is resulting in higher, and completely unnecessary, environmental damage.”

One of the major concerns facing both assessed regions is the extremely high levels of chemical use. Antibiotic and pesticide use in Eastern North American farms is significantly higher than other salmon farming regions in the world – 241 times higher than in Scotland and 204 times higher than Norway. Also, some of the chemicals used are listed as Highly and Critically Important to Human Health by the World Health Organization, according to the report.

“It’s alarming that such high amounts of chemicals, including antibiotics, are being used here in Atlantic Canada,” says Matt Abbott of the Conservation Council of New Brunswick. “This is of particular concern as the Canadian government has recently weakened laws and regulations prohibiting the use of chemicals, with the introduction in summer 2015 of the Aquaculture Activity Regulations. Not only are there high amounts of antibiotics in the farmed salmon, the regulation of pesticide use is now significantly less that it was a year ago.”

A significant difference between the US and Canadian farms was the regulatory requirement to track all escapes back to the farm. In Canada, there are no such requirements, although the Nova Scotia government is in the process of developing a similar protocol as part of its recent regulatory changes.

“Impacts on endangered populations of wild Atlantic salmon as a result of aquaculture operations cannot be underestimated.” says National SeaChoice Manager Lana Brandt.

With wild Atlantic salmon listed as endangered in both Canada and the US, the additional threats created by open net-pens pose an unacceptable risk to the future of wild populations. We need to address these issues and create changes in our regulatory system to ensure that Atlantic Canada’s ocean ecosystems are not unnecessarily and irreversibly harmed by these open net-pen farms.

— END –

To view the full Atlantic salmon recommendations please visit the SeaChoice website.

Or, for more Information contact:

  • Susanna Fuller, Marine Conservation Coordinator, Ecology Action Centre

   marine@ecologyaction.ca 902-446-4840

 

  • Lana Brandt, National SeaChoice Manager

   info@SeaChoice.org 778-833-2954

 

Background:

  • New Brunswick and Nova Scotia make up over 60 per cent of all North American marine farmed Atlantic salmon.
  • 100 per cent of US farmed Atlantic salmon is from Maine – accounting for 25 per cent of North American market.
  • 60 per cent of Atlantic Canada’s farmed salmon is exported to the US.
  • Average North American antibiotic use between 2012-2014 for Atlantic salmon farms was 241 times higher than in Scotland, 204 times higher than Norway, and 6 times higher than British Columbia.

Escapes

  • Escapes pose ecological and genetic threats to the historically low wild Atlantic salmon populations, which are listed as endangered in Canada and the US.
  • In Canada, there is currently no centralized Containment Management System (CMS) to monitor escapes. Instead, it is self-regulated.
  • In the USA, they have a very successful, multi-faceted CMS in place, and there have been no containment breaches since 2003.
  • Only 0.24 per cent of wild fish found in the Gulf of Maine originated from a farm, compared to a New Brunswick river where 70.3 per cent of fish in the wild were from a farm origin.
  • Additionally, in Maine it is required to maintain a genetic database of hatcheries so that escaped fish can be traced back to their specific production site. This database does not exist in Canada.

Disease

  • A severe viral disease called Infections Salmon Anemia (ISA) is still present at many Canadian Atlantic salmon farms, while there have been no cases of ISA in the US since 2006.
  • In Atlantic Canada, sea lice loads are higher than industry-authored limits, and there is also a high transfer of disease on farms.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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