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


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.


Posted by... lana on Sep 24, 2014

Welcome Home Ned!

National Sustainable Seafood Day Supporters

MP Fin Donnelly, Ned Bell, Lana Gunnlaugson, and Mayor Gregor Robertson

By Kurtis Hayne, SeaChoice Seafood Market Analyst

On July 1st Chef Ned Bell started his journey across Canada – a 74-day cycling tour in support of healthy lakes, rivers and oceans. Fast-forward to September 12th and Ned arrived back in Vancouver having cycled over 8700km at a pace of over 150km per day! The journey concluded at the Vancouver Four Seasons Hotel for a 20th and final event of the trip.

Having followed Ned’s journey, I was excited for him to have completed such an amazing feat. I was also very excited to see how well the journey had been received across the entire country. Having grown up in Alberta, I realize the particular importance of Ned’s tour in places where the idea of “sustainable seafood” may not be as familiar as here on the West Coast. Indeed, Ned mentioned that during his trip the question he was asked over and over was “What is Sustainable Seafood?”

Arriving at the event it was immediately apparent how strong the sustainability movement truly is here in Vancouver. There were many local chefs who are championing the sustainability movement through their outreach and sustainable menus – Ned joined chefs such as Robert Clark of The Fish Counter, Frank Pabst of Blue Water Café and Raw Bar, Quang Dang of West, Tim Bedford from the Vancouver Aquarium and Chef Chris Whittaker of Forage, among others, to create delicious sustainable seafood dishes such as Kuterra Salmon Blossoms and a Northern Divine sturgeon Tostada. In addition to Lana and myself from SeaChoice there was a large contingent of Ocean Wise staff supporting the event and a who’s who of Vancouver personalities attending including the “Lobster Guy” Fabian Bates, Fred Lee, Dawn Chubai and Mayor Gregor Robertson.

Lana Gunnlaugson and Ned Bell - Chefs for Oceans Credit: Fred Lee

Lana Gunnlaugson and Ned Bell – Chefs for Oceans Credit: Fred Lee

For me the most striking, and inspiring thing I experienced during the night was the camaraderie of everyone involved. There was a mutual respect and admiration for our local watersheds and a shared need to help protect them. It was indeed this camaraderie that made such an ambitious pursuit as the Chefs for Oceans tour able to be so successful. Such teamwork will continue to be needed to accomplish Ned’s goals of creating accessible sustainable seafood for all Canadians within the next ten years and the creation of a National Sustainable Seafood Day here in Canada.

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.

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