Posted by... Sarah Foster on Jan 31, 2017

Are you eating seafood in the dark?


You may not be eating the seafood you think you are. And as a result you may be contributing to environmental degradation in the marine environment, modern slavery or even eating seafood that’s not as healthy as you think it is. This is why SeaChoice has launched a petition – asking the federal government to improve labelling for seafood in Canada.

Canadians want to know what seafood they are eating and whether it comes from environmentally and socially sustainable sources — or if it doesn’t. But Canadian consumers are currently “in the dark”. How can we know when the information available on seafood packaging only requires a “common” name?

According to Canadian guidelines, a package labeled with the common name “rockfish” could be one of more than 100 possible species, some of which are endangered and others which are sustainably caught. A recent study by Oceana in the United States estimated that nearly half of sampled seafood was mislabelled.

A 2016 study by SeaChoice identified many uncertainties and inconsistencies in official Canadian data – making it likely that Canadians are also subject to seafood fraud. The risk is high – more than half of the seafood in Canadian markets is imported, however current import data does not trace that product back to its source, indicating to consumers only the country where it was last processed, not even its true origin.

In Canada, consumers cannot currently choose to preferentially purchase seafood that comes from legal, regulated fisheries that do not involve human rights abuses, or even that meet our health requirements. This is why SeaChoice wants your support in petitioning the federal government to ensure that all seafood sold in Canada bears a label indicating the following:

  • Scientific (Latin) species name,
  • whether is it wild or farmed,
  • the location of the fishery in which it was caught (or farm where it was cultivated), and
  • the gear type or farming method.

Legislating access to this information would allow you to choose seafood that makes a positive contribution to the environmental, economic, social and cultural fabric of the community it comes from. It would also put us on more of a level playing field with some of our largest seafood markets – the US and the European Union.

Knowledge is power – and SeaChoice’s newest campaign aims to ensure that all Canadian’s have the power to choose seafood that is good for the oceans and the people that depend on them.

Click here to sign our petition!

Click here for more information about traceability and labelling.


Posted by... Sarah Foster on Jan 30, 2017

Eating seafood in the dark?

Posted by... Kurtis Hayne on Nov 29, 2016

Who actually eats Canadian seafood?


SeaChoice has worked diligently over the last decade to find solutions for healthy oceans by working with Canadian businesses and shoppers to take an active role in supporting sustainable fisheries and aquaculture. Despite achieving many successes  to date, there is still more to do. Canada still produces and consumes a large amount of unsustainable seafood. Based on  our Taking Stock report, 14% of seafood produced in Canada is ranked ‘Avoid’, with an additional 9% that is currently  ‘Unranked’. To continue to improve the sustainability of Canadian produced seafood, we’ve set out to understand exactly where our unsustainable, red-ranked seafood is ending up. Though it may sound like a simple question, finding the answer is very complicated! Seafood is one of the most highly traded products worldwide, and the supply-chains can be very long and murky, often having little to no traceability or data tracking.

When examining the trade data of the major Canadian red-ranked seafood categories, we found that the United States actually consumes more of this seafood than Canadians do! While initially surprising, this makes more sense when we see that the United States is the largest importer of seafood in the world.

For the largest red-ranked seafood species (open-net farmed salmon, longline caught Atlantic swordfish, Atlantic cod and Manitoba pickerel, perch and pike) we found that on average, 70% was consumed in the U.S., 5% in other countries, and only a quarter of it consumed in Canada.

So why is this important? To continue to promote positive change in these Canadian fisheries, we need to be able to reach the markets where this seafood is sold. Thankfully many sustainable seafood programs exist across North America, and SeaChoice collaborates with many of them through our participation in the Conservation Alliance for Seafood Solutions. This Alliance connects leading conservation groups that work with businesses representing 80% of the North American grocery and food-service markets. While it seems a little odd to have to work with the US supply chain in order to improve the sustainability of Canadian fisheries, it’s a reality in this globalized world of seafood trade.


Posted by... Lana Brandt on Sep 26, 2016

Celebrating good, clean and fair fish with Slow Fish Canada


Small-scale gooseneck barnacles – Credit Lana Brandt

By Lana Brandt, SeaChoice

In British Columbia, we are fortunate to have many local ocean-friendly seafood delicacies. Small scale fishers and aquaculturists supply seafood lovers with local and delicious seafood year round. For the third consecutive year, SeaChoice supported the annual Slow Fish dinner to raise awareness and demand for some of B.C.’s local sustainable seafood treasures. Co-hosted with the Chefs’ Table Society of British Columbia and the Vancouver Aquarium’s Ocean Wise program, the Slow Fish dinner was another huge success this year!

In 2014, Slow Food Canada launched a Slow Fish campaign in an effort to celebrate good, clean and fair fish. Good seafood as in traceable, local and seasonal fish supplied by small-scale producers. Clean fish refers to sustainable harvesting practices as well as local processing efforts that reduce waste by using as much of the fish as possible. Fair seafood involves paying a fair price for the fish to ensure that local communities are supported as well as ensuring that human rights are respected.

This year’s producers and chefs included the following participants: 


‘Best Choice’ Farmed Mussels – Credit Lana Brandt

Our chefs

Lisa Ahier, SoBo

Ned Bell, Vancouver Aquarium’s Ocean Wise program

Karen Barnaby, Albion Farms and Fisheries

Sean Cousins, The Vancouver Club

Meeru Dhalwala, Vij’s / Rangoli

Bruno Feldeisen, Semiahmoo Resort

Roger Ma, Boulevard Kitchen & Oyster Bar

Thompson Tran, The Wooden Boat


ThisFish! supporting traceable seafood – Credit Lana Brandt

Our local delicacies


Gooseneck Barnacles

Humpback Shrimps

Ling Cod


Pink Salmon



On behalf of the SeaChoice team, we thank everyone for coming out to support local, fair and sustainable seafood!

Posted by... Lana Brandt on Sep 14, 2016

Consumer tips for buying salmon

Credit: John Brouwer

Credit: John Brouwer

By Lana Brandt, SeaChoice

The Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program released a report last week assessing B.C. chinook and coho commercial salmon fisheries. For the first time, four of the fourteen fisheries assessed were ranked as “avoid”, creating alarm for both seafood consumers and suppliers. The four red-ranked fisheries in southern B.C. left some British Columbians wondering if they should continue to buy wild salmon.

The report identified 10 fisheries that represent about 99 per cent of total chinook and coho catch as having “some concerns”, while the other four fisheries responsible for the remaining one per cent of the catch were ranked as “avoid”. Even though the vast majority of B.C. coho and chinook found in grocery stores is likely sourced from one of the “some concerns” fisheries, the bottom line is that some red-ranked salmon still exists in the marketplace. The good news is that because of summer chinook and coho fisheries closures in southern waters, consumers are most likely to find yellow-ranked coho and chinook salmon from other parts of British Columbia on grocery shelves, as well as other species such as chum, pink and sockeye.

So what can consumers and seafood suppliers do? Now, more than ever, seafood consumers and buyers need to know more about their fish. Without proper seafood labelling legislation in Canada this isn’t easy, but consumers can still ask where their fish is caught, what gear was used and, better yet, get to know a fisherman supplier. Supporting Community Supported Fisheries (CSFs), such as Skipper Otto in British Columbia, helps seafood lovers feel confident they know the location and even the fishing boat that caught their fish. Consumers can make a more informed decision by asking the right questions. If answers are missing, there is always the option to choose another species of salmon or different seafood all together.

Farmed salmon grown in land-based closed containment aquaculture systems is another option. Unfortunately, the majority of marketplace farmed salmon is raised in open net-pens, associated with concerns about disease spread to wild salmon and ranked as “avoid’. Learn more about last week’s chinook and coho salmon report here.

“Some concerns” seafood should be consumed infrequently, or when a green choice is not available. There are concerns with abundance, management, or impacts on habitat or other marine life.

September 6, 2016Avoid-sample

VANCOUVER/HALIFAX — For the first time, the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program has ranked four commercial British Columbia salmon fisheries as “avoid”, largely because of low population numbers. Today’s report includes assessments for chinook and coho salmon commercially caught in B.C. The report identifies 10 fisheries that represent about 99 per cent of the total chinook and coho catch as having “some concerns”. Four fisheries responsible for the remaining one per cent of the catch were ranked as “avoid”. The rankings provide information to consumers who want to purchase sustainably caught seafood.

“These rankings confirm fears about declining wild salmon populations heard across B.C. this summer,” said Jeffery Young, senior science and policy advisor at the David Suzuki Foundation, a SeaChoice member. “I’m sure British Columbians will agree that it’s essential for fisheries to do their part to allow declining salmon populations to recover.”

Chinook and coho populations are suffering most in the southern part of the province, even though catches have been reduced. B.C. fisheries are also catching salmon stocks listed as threatened or endangered under the United States Endangered Species Act. “It’s pretty clear these fisheries are not sustainable when they are targeting threatened or endangered fish,” said Susanna Fuller, SeaChoice member from the Ecology Action Centre.

Recreational fisheries were not assessed in this report but also catch these wild salmon. “Making matters worse, recreational fisheries are catching even more of these struggling populations than their commercial counterparts,” Young said. “There’s a confluence of issues, ranging from too many fishing licences allocated to small areas, challenges connected to hatcheries and fishing that crosses international borders, that make fisheries complex to manage. These unsustainable fisheries are a warning to all commercial and recreational salmon fisheries to take measures now to become more sustainable if they want fish to catch in the future.

Wild salmon face myriad threats, including diseases from open-net aquaculture, ocean warming and acidification related to climate change, and habitat destruction. Low numbers of chinook and coho have big impacts on B.C.’s coastal ecosystems and life, especially southern resident killer whales, which now number 83 and are listed as endangered under Canada’s Species at Risk Act. The whales rely on chinook as their primary food source. “This poor assessment has implications for more than just salmon. Killer whales won’t survive if we can’t protect their food source,” Young said.

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 helps Canadian businesses and shoppers support sustainable fisheries and aquaculture at all levels of the seafood supply chain. SeaChoice has created easy-to-use, science-based tools to help consumers make the best seafood choices. For more information, visit

Media contacts:

Lana Brandt, SeaChoice: 778-833-2954

Jeffery Young, David Suzuki Foundation: 250-208-8714

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!

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