Vancouver Slop was recently asked to partner up with the David Suzuki Foundation to help promote the Sea Choice sustainability program. We strongly believe in sustainability here and felt that the Sea Choice 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 Sea Choice program was the credibility in 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 it was clear that the program was credible. Furthermore, the Sea Choice program works in collaboration with the Monteray Bay Aquarium which in my opinion is one of the leaders in the seafood sustainability world. So, when the opportunity to hear more about the Sea Choice program and to be involved we were excited.
I walked in with open ears but I had three major questions.
1. What factors were taken in 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 the by catch 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 the Fishing gears.
- Effectiveness of Management - Independent scientific assessments to monitor stock status.
Aquaculture is huge out in BC and there is 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 BC which have a very different level of impact on the environment. Looking at the Sea Choice guide in some cases the best choice is the farmed option.
Consideration given to
- Marine Resources used as fish feed.
- Risk of escape
- Disease and parasite transfer to wild stocks
- Rick 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 Sea Choice?
Sea Choice differentiates itself from Ocean Wise by the fact that Ocean Wise is focuses more on the restaurant level and Sea Choice is more in the supply end and retail end of the industry. Take a look at retail counter at your next grocery store and look for the logo and if available they have a compact wallet card that tells you which species are well managed and which ones are not.