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VANCOUVER — As people around the world celebrate World Oceans Day, SeaChoice, Canada's national sustainable seafood program, is challenging businesses, governments and consumers to take tangible steps over the next year toward ensuring a sustainable supply of seafood.

Officially designated by the United Nations this year, World Oceans Day is being celebrated on June 8, 2009 — more than 15 years after Canada proposed it at the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro. On this occasion, Canadians are being invited to take the SeaChoice Sustainable Seafood Challenge and do their part to support healthy oceans.

"If we want fish in the oceans for generations to come, we need to think and act in a sustainable way," said Bill Wareham, SeaChoice representative and marine conservation specialist with the David Suzuki Foundation. "SeaChoice is calling on all Canadians to make a personal commitment to purchasing seafood that was harvested or produced in a way that does not harm marine species and environments."

The SeaChoice Sustainable Seafood Challenge suggests several ways that consumers, retailers, industry and governments can work to ensure sustainable fisheries and aquaculture practices that lead to healthy oceans:

Consumers can support healthy oceans by refusing to purchase endangered or redlisted fish species, and instead committing to use SeaChoice's wallet-sized guide and new iPhone application to buy locally caught, sustainably harvested species.
Seafood retailers and suppliers can promote healthy oceans by working to source sustainable seafood products, and educate their customers and clients about the benefits of buying sustainable seafood.

Industries including commercial fisheries and seafood producers can support healthy oceans by seeking third-party eco-certification for their products, and by reforming their fisheries toward sustainability best practices.

Federal and provincial governments can promote healthy oceans by investing in sustainable fishing technologies and practices, including better monitoring of fish stocks, recording bycatch (species unintentionally caught during fishing), putting observers on boats to monitor fishing practices, and changing the required fishing gear for fisheries to more sustainable equipment.

"There's a lot people can do to reduce the demand for seafood from illegal, unsustainable and poorly managed fisheries," said Rob Johnson of the Ecology Action Centre in Halifax. "Consumers have significant power to change unsustainable practices in the fishing and aquaculture industries by choosing green-listed seafood from the SeaChoice sustainable seafood ranking list."

Established in 2006, SeaChoice is a national program that provides science-based sustainability assessments of seafood to Canadian consumers, fishermen, chefs and retailers. More than 250,000 printed copies of the program's guide to sustainable seafood, Canada's Seafood Guide, are in circulation across the country. SeaChoice is led by the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, David Suzuki Foundation, Ecology Action Centre, Living Oceans Society and Sierra Club BC, and works in collaboration with the Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch program.

For more information, please contact:
Taina Uitto
National Manager, SeaChoice
(604) 685-7445 × 26 (office)
(604) 838-0942 (mobile)
Or visit: www.seachoice.org

June 8, 2009