The Vancouver Aquarium is well recognized as an international tourist destination, but another equally important offering of ours focuses on impactful conservation, research, and education programs.
One such initiative is the Aquarium's Ocean Wise program, a Canada-wide initiative that aims to enhance education about seafood sustainability and advance an ocean-friendly approach to seafood consumption.
Launched in 2005, Ocean Wise is a Vancouver Aquarium conservation program created to educate and empower consumers about the issues surrounding sustainable seafood. The program works directly with restaurants, markets, food services and suppliers all across Canada to ensure that they have the most current scientific information regarding seafood, and helps them to make ocean-friendly buying decisions. Currently, the program includes 450 partners in 3,100 locations, and this number is growing.
One mission, many players
The mission of Ocean Wise encompasses far more than just encouraging better seafood choices among restaurant patrons. The initiative covers all aspects of the process to improve ocean sustainability, from the fishing boat to the dinner table. It also works with producers and fishermen to ensure that they can provide product to chefs and retailers who want to include sustainable offerings on their menus and in their stores.
For example, Steve Johansen is a fisherman from British Columbia who catches wild Ocean Wise spot prawns, a species that is succulent, delicious, and sustainable. Another local farming partner is the B.C. Shellfish Growers Association, whose members sustainably produce scallops, mussels, clams, and oysters.
The program also works with land-based fish farms all across the country, such as an Ocean Wise Atlantic halibut farm in Halifax.
Chefs at partnering restaurants also play an influential role as culinary trend setters. They are the drivers of responsible consumer choices, and have the ability to encourage smart, sustainable food choices through innovative recipes and menus.
Chefs have played a key role in promoting recent food 'trends' such as local and seasonal offerings, and they can do the same for seafood sustainability.
It's all part of a bigger picture
Although Ocean Wise began on the west coast, it has expanded eastward, with a growing number of partners coming on board from Ontario and other regions of the country.
This growth reflects the opportunity for all of us, no matter where we live, to understand our connection to the ocean and the food it provides us. At the end of the day, Ocean Wise has potential to bring Canadians back to their heritage as a nation that has relied on the harvest of the oceans and lakes for generations.
Food producers, consumers, and trend-setters who engage in Ocean Wise have a unique opportunity to be a part of a larger effort to ensure that our use of seafood is responsible so that supplies are plentiful and healthy for the coming generations.
To learn more about Ocean Wise and its partners, please visit oceanwise.ca.