Fish and seafood: how to make better choices
Ocean Wise® Conservation Association’s Ocean Wise Seafood program started in 2005 with one specific goal in mind: ensure it’s easy for consumers to make ocean-friendly choices. Ocean Wise brings attention to overfishing — one of the biggest threats our oceans face today. The program helps businesses and consumers identify sustainable items, directly contributing to the conservation of our oceans. Getting started may seem daunting, with so much information out there. So we thought answering some of these questions might help guide you.
What is Ocean Wise Seafood?
Overfishing is a monumental, global issue. The Ocean Wise Seafood program is an Ocean Wise Conservation Association initiative that aims to tackle this crisis, and our partners make the commitment to clearly label all Ocean Wise choices so seafood buyers can make sustainable choices. If you see the Ocean Wise symbol next to a seafood item, you know that option is the best choice for the health of our oceans.
What is sustainable seafood?
can be defined as species that are caught or farmed in a way that ensures the long-term health and stability of that species, as well as the greater marine ecosystem. For many consumers, especially outside of coastal cities like Vancouver, Halifax or Gaspé, sustainable seafood is not on their radar. Ocean Wise Seafood, a proud member of the Conservation Alliance for Sustainable Solutions
, along with 40+ other like-minded organizations, are working to increase seafood literacy by introducing Canadians to the issue of overfishing and making it easier for them to make ocean-friendly choices.
How does the Ocean Wise Seafood program work?
Ocean Wise Seafood works individually with each partner business to help it make sustainable seafood purchasing decisions. In turn, partners identify these options on their menus or display cases with the Ocean Wise symbol. While partners are not required to only provide Ocean Wise choices upon joining the program, partners are required to clearly label seafood items that are identified as sustainable, and Ocean Wise recommended. The aim is to bring partners along a path of continuous improvement with the ultimate goal of becoming 100 per cent Ocean Wise.
Why don’t restaurants have to offer 100 per cent sustainable options to be Ocean Wise?
It can be challenging to immediately substitute all seafood items with sustainable ones. As partners join the Ocean Wise program, the team works with chefs and owners to facilitate the access to ocean-friendly seafood suggestions; it can take time to find suitable alternatives to recipes or popular consumer items. Sometimes, seafood assessments are not currently available. The premise of the program is for partners to clearly label Ocean Wise items to make sustainable choices easy for consumers. Ocean Wise sets a high bar for sustainability and works collaboratively with its partners to help them continually change for the health of our oceans.
How do I know if I’m choosing a sustainable option at a restaurant or store that’s an Ocean Wise partner?
Sustainable items recommended by Ocean Wise are clearly labeled. If you see the Ocean Wise symbol on a seafood item, it’s ocean-friendly. If you don’t see it, it’s not a seafood option that meets our science-based standards.
Ocean Wise Seafood recommendations help identify species from wild-capture fisheries and aquaculture that are:
Abundant and resilient to fishing pressures.
Well managed with a comprehensive management plan based on current research.
Harvested in a method that ensures limited damage to marine or aquatic habitats and negative interactions with other species, and limited bycatch on non-target and endangered species.
Are Ocean Wise partners evaluated?
Yes, Ocean Wise team members regularly check in with partners about their menus or purchasing habits. If a partner is incorrectly labelling seafood items, which can happen on occasion, Ocean Wise immediately connects with the partner to fix the mistake and suggest a sustainable alternative. Re-assessments of seafood items are done regularly, and often can result in a change of status for a seafood item. That information is clearly and immediately shared with partners so they can make the necessary changes.
Learn more about the Ocean Wise Seafood program at www.seafood.ocean.org
Overfishing is one of the biggest threat our oceans face today. With more than 750 partners across Canada, Ocean Wise Seafood makes it easy for consumers to make sustainable seafood choices that ensure the health of our oceans for generations to come. The Ocean Wise symbol next to a seafood item is the Ocean Wise assurance of an ocean-friendly seafood choice