Monday, February 1, 2010

What are you doing to help protect our oceans?

Started by the Vancouver Aquarium, Ocean Wise is a Canadian organization trying to do what they can to save our oceans. They just had their 5th birthday, and celebrated by showing the impact they have had at some local restaurants, by simply assisting them in serving items that were sustainably caught. The program is still very young in Eastern Canada but they have made strides and are increasing their list of participating restaurants.

Ocean Wise aims to "educate and empower consumers about the issues surrounding sustainable seafood". They work with both markets and restaurants to make sure that they have all of the tools possible to assist customers in making sustainable choices, and add demarcation to menus with their logo so smart choices can be made. The majority of the restaurant going public does not know what sustainable choices are, so this program is a starting point to education. The goal is to keep the ocean life healthy and abundant for generations to come. Not a bad idea, I figure.

More and more we have heard in the news the alarming rate at which our oceans are being overfished, and clearly if we do not take drastic action now this will cause irreversible damage to this crucial ecosystem. This will impact the wellbeing of our planet, and it needs to be more of a focus for society to stop this process dead in its tracks. It is not necessary to stop eating fish and seafood all together, but being educated as to the choices we make is very important.

From the Ocean Wise Literature:

What makes a seafood item Ocean Wise?
Ocean Wise choices are species that are:
1. Abundant and resilient to fishing pressure
2. Managed as part of a comprehensive plan based on current research
3. Harvested in ways that limit bycatch of other, possibly endangered species
4. Harvested in ways that limit damage to our ocean habitats

Sounds simple enough, doesnt it? A tip is that if you dont know if something is sustainable, to order a lake or river species as opposed to something from the ocean. It really isn't that simple, but it is a good rule. Also, ask questions about your food. We are becoming to trusting within food culture and we do need to know where our food comes fro, especially seeing as it is what sustains our life.

Some Toronto restaurants involved in the program:
Amuse-Bouche Restaurant
The Harbord Room
The Local Company
Trios Bistro

For more information visit the Ocean Wise Website or contact the local representative, Theodora Geach to become involved in the program.

It is up to all of us to change this path and correct the damage we have done.

Peace, Love, and Ice Cream.


  1. Hi Joel,

    Thank you for the excellent article, however, I feel I should clarify one thing. Freshwater species of fish from lakes and rivers are not always a safe sustainable option. Unfortunately, there are many fresh water species out there that have been severely overfished or poorly managed as well depending on the lake or river. For example the Lake Whitefish is considered a threatened species in Lake Simcoe under COSEWIC (Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada). With Ocean Wise we will assess the sustainability of all aquatic species including freshwater fish not only marine species.



  2. That is very important to know, Theodora. It seems I have been misinformed.

    For those with an iPhone there are 2 apps available, so you can check your choices on the go. Download them now from the app store, both are free.