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!






By Lana Gunnlaugson, National SeaChoice Manager

Chef Ned Bell dishes sustainable seafood solutions

Chef Ned Bell dishes sustainable seafood solutions

Last weekend, Canadian celebrity Chef Ned Bell and SeaChoice joined the Monterey Bay Aquarium and the Seafood Watch program for their 14th annual Cooking for Solutions. This year there were a series of events in celebration of World Oceans Week, including sustainable seafood cooking demonstrations and educational food and wine tastings.

SeaChoice and Chef Bell joined the weekend festivities to promote and help raise awareness around land-based salmon farming solutions in Canada. Kuterra land-based farmed Atlantic salmon was chosen as a “Best Choice” feature for the weekend as it uses the Recirculating Aquaculture System (RAS) technology, which has little environmental impact compared to net-pen salmon farms.

Kuterra salmon cooking demo

Kuterra salmon cooking demo

Kuterra salmon farms are completely separated from wild salmon environments and their farms efficiently use water by recirculating and cleaning 98 per cent of the water used in each cycle. Kuterra salmon farms also rely on geothermal energy to help reduce energy costs and the farms require 30 per cent less feed than conventional salmon farms. Kuterra is 100 per cent owned by the ‘Namgis First Nation and their land-based farm is demonstrating sustainable seafood solutions that are economically feasible too.

On behalf of the SeaChoice team we would like to give a big thanks to Chef Ned Bell for helping to raise the awareness around sustainable seafood solutions and to Albion Fisheries for generously supplying SeaChoice with Kuterra salmon for the World Oceans Day celebration.

Posted by... lana on May 20, 2015

A National Sustainable Seafood Day Story

By Lana Gunnlaugson, National Manager SeaChoice

NSSD PosterIt all began in 2012 on a beach in Nova Scotia when Ocean Wise, SeaChoice and celebrity Chefs Ned Bell and Chris Whittaker joined sustainable seafood forces at the Canadian Chefs’ Congress. After an inspirational weekend together, we all agreed that Canada should have a day dedicated to sustainable seafood – just as we do for our oceans. A day for building awareness and to help build educate Canadians about the importance of making responsible seafood choices.

Ocean Wise and SeaChoice tested the idea with MP Fin Donnelly, which was instantly supported when Fin agreed to introduce the motion to Parliament. In celebration we organized the inaugural 2013 event in Vancouver to raise awareness around a day dedicated to sustainable seafood on Canada’s calendars.

In 2014 the support for National Sustainable Seafood Day grew further with environmental groups WWF Canada and the Marine Stewardship Council joining the team, not to mention chefs from across Canada to support hosting the second event on Parliament for Senators and Members of Parliament.

Last weekend all of our groups again united efforts at the Toronto Four Seasons to build support for our third annual National Sustainable Seafood Day celebration. Our groups were joined by eight of Canada’s top chefs, government, media and over 100 seafood lovers.

But this event was much more than a sustainable seafood tasting. We announced the support for National Sustainable Seafood Day from over 130 Canadian businesses, many of them with hundreds of individual stores. With this growing support we can only hope that this might be the year we pass National Sustainable Seafood Day through Parliament.

If you have not already, please join us in supporting a day dedicated to making responsible seafood choices. After all Canada has three oceans and the longest coast with many ocean-friendly seafood solutions to be proud of. Let’s work together to keep it this way.

Posted by... lana on Apr 29, 2015

A Day Dedicated to Sustainable Seafood in Canada

NSSD-LogoEvent Details

Toronto, please join Chefs for Oceans, Ocean Wise, SeaChoice, and WWF Canada next week at the Four Seasons Toronto for an afternoon of ocean-friendly seafood tasting! Tickets are selling fast so don’t miss out on this event!

Learn more about the ocean-friendly seafood solutions that exist in Canada and show your support for National Sustainable Seafood Day — a day to declare our commitment to choosing sustainable seafood year-round. And if you haven’t already, please sign the petition in support of bringing National Sustainable Seafood Day to Canada!

Co-hosted by eight renowned Canadian chefs – including ocean ambassador Ned Bell – we invite you to join us for an afternoon of ocean-friendly seafood tastings, inspirational guest speakers The Water Brothers, and a celebration of our oceans!

Featured GuestsWalter Brothers

The Water Brothers

Alex and Tyler Mifflin are the award-winning hosts and creators of the acclaimed documentary eco-adventure television series The Water Brothers.  Over the past five years, they have travelled around the globe from the highest peak in Africa to the world’s mightiest rivers, deserts, and to the bottom of the ocean, exploring some of the most important water stories of our time.  Commissioned by TV Ontario and soon to be broadcast in BC on the Knowledge Network, the series is also shown in over 40 countries, including the United States where it is now available in 47 million homes on Participant Media’s PIVOT TV.  Winners of the BBC Earth Best Newcomers award at the UK’s Wildscreen festival, known as the “Green Oscars”, the Brothers’ passion for water conservation has led them to become water ambassadors in Canada and around the world. They strongly believe in ensuring that audiences and particularly young people are aware of the challenges we face in relation to our most precious resource – and understand the true social and economic value of water and the available and emerging solutions that will help us overcome these
challenges together.

safe_imageFeaturing Ocean-Friendly Seafood Tastings By:

  • John Horne & Anthony Walsh (Canoe)
  • Nigel Finley (The Chase)
  • Rob Gentile (Buca)
  • Patrick McMurray (Ceili Cottage/Pearl Diver)
  • Dan Donovan (Hooked)
  • Ned Bell & Four Seasons Toronto
  • Martin Kouprie (Pangaea)
  • Jeff Crump (Bread Bar)
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