Reducing Overfishing With Ocean Wise


Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre developed the Ocean Wise® program 11 years ago to raise much-needed awareness about overfishing and the need to consume more sustainable seafood as a way to let vulnerable seafood stocks recover. It started small, as many movements do. Sixteen Vancouver chefs worked together with Vancouver Aquarium to fight for something they truly believed in: the need to conserve our oceans and the precious, yet diminishing, life they hold. We asked ourselves: How could we raise awareness and shift consumers from choosing the popular seafood items that largely come from overexploited stocks to sustainable, equally delicious seafood choices they had not yet tried? And more importantly, how do we make it easy for them to do it?

So began a long-term effort to revolutionize the way Canadians think about their seafood. Across Canada, leading chefs, restaurant owners, markets and suppliers have joined Ocean Wise with the commitment to source sustainable seafood and also clearly label ocean-friendly choices with the Ocean Wise symbol. This symbol indicates to consumers that the seafood choice on menus or in markets is caught in an ecologically sustainable way.

When making Ocean Wise seafood assessments on wild fisheries, Ocean Wise scores fisheries on four criteria: impact on the stock, impact on other species, effectiveness of management measures and impact on surrounding habitats. All of these assessments undergo, at minimum, three rounds of peer review followed by an external oversight process to ensure the content is accurate. Ocean Wise partners receive ongoing scientific updates on seafood assessments to guide their purchasing decisions. As well, the team regularly connects with partners to discuss sustainable options and ongoing changes in assessments.

Because of the ebb and flow of Canada’s fisheries this relationship takes constant dialogue – Ocean Wise partners are the first to dive in with innovations like experimental recipes that encourage consumers to eat further down the food chain, such as gooseneck barnacles, to competing in ocean-friendly collaborative events, like Ocean Wise Chowder Chowdown, to help raise awareness and engage consumers in a positive way.

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article: Ann-Marie Copping


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