Vancouver Slop was recently asked to partner up with the David Suzuki Foundation to help promote the SeaChoice sustainable seafood program. We strongly believe in sustainability here and felt that the SeaChoice program is something we are willing to stand behind.
There are more and more third party certification bodies being displayed on logos so it was difficult to really know which one we would align ourselves with. What tilted the scale for the SeaChoice program was the credibility of the support behind it. Backed by the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, the Ecology Action Centre, Sierra Club of Canada, Living Oceans Society and the David Suzuki Foundation, the program was clearly credible. Furthermore, the SeaChoice program works in collaboration with the Monterey Bay Aquarium, which, in my opinion, is one of the leaders in the seafood sustainability world. So, when the opportunity arose to hear more about the SeaChoice program and to get involved, we were excited.
I walked in with open ears but I had three major questions.
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1. What factors were taken into consideration when ranking these species? Where did the data come from and how was it analyzed?
- Stock Size — Ensuring the removal rates are not higher than the population is capable of replacing.
- Bycatch — Gear types like dragnet trawlers are not selective, which means many species that are not intended to be harvested are caught. Some of the bycatch is kept and sent to market but some species are discarded.
- Inherent Vulnerability of the Species — Lifespan, offspring numbers, etc.
- Habitat Impact — The amount of damage caused by fishing gear.
- Effectiveness of Management — Independent scientific assessments to monitor stock status.
2. What was the program's opinion on aquaculture?
Aquaculture is huge in B.C. and there are a lot of false assumptions about the industry in relation to sustainability. A lot of our shellfish is aquaculture-based, and there are both land-based and ocean-based pens in B.C., which have a very different level of impact on the environment. The SeaChoice guide shows that, in some cases, the best choice is the farmed option.
Consideration is given to:
- Marine resources used as fish feed
- Risk of escape
- Disease and parasite transfer to wild stocks
- Risk of pollution and other habitat effects
- Effectiveness of management
Note that the use of drugs in the aquaculture systems is not an area for consideration.
3. What is the difference between Ocean Wise and SeaChoice?
SeaChoice differentiates itself from Ocean Wise by the fact that Ocean Wise focuses more on the restaurant level and SeaChoice is more in the supply and retail end of the industry. Take a look at retail counter at your grocery store and look for the logo and, if available, the compact wallet card that tells you which species are well managed and which ones are not.
Vancouver Slop is a member of the SeaChoice ambassador group that recently joined the David Suzuki Foundation to help spread the word about ocean-friendly seafood. You can read the original post about SeaChoice on VancouverSlop.com .