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Vancouver Aquarium’s Ocean Wise month helps define sustainable seafood

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 Local Rock Cod (or Pacific Red Snapper) are on display at the Granville Island Public Market. Rock Cod are not recommended by Ocean Wise. Photo: Simone Pfeiffer

November is Vancouver Aquarium’s Ocean Wise month and though the program keeps growing, some students remain in the dark about sustainable seafood.

Some students interviewed on campus knew very little about sustainable seafood.

Student’s lack sustainability knowledge

Vivian Dinh, said she was vaguely aware of the issue because “the Superstore shows a list of fishes you can eat.”

Dinh said she doesn’t like seafood, but if she did she’d “probably stay away from the rare fishes.”

Linda Zheng was not aware of sustainable seafood at all but said that it probably wouldn’t make a difference to the choices she makes at restaurants.

“Even if we’re not going to eat it, someone else will. They’re just going throw it out anyways,” she said.

Kristie Hsu said her parents know about red tide shellfish poisoning but not about sustainable seafood. Knowing about it probably wouldn’t have much of an impact on her own consumption habits.

“I don’t think so. Maybe if it’s very specific, like Alaskan shrimp, I guess,” she said.

Acceptable and avoidable seafood selections

Fish and seafood to avoid include black tiger prawns, farmed Indian shrimp, rock crab, squid, sole and steelhead salmon. These are among the top items removed from the menus of Ocean Wise restaurant partners.

Good options for fish and seafood fished or trapped in West Coast waters include, pacific cod, dungeness crab, B.C. pink spiny scallops, farmed bay mussels and octopus.

Very popular spot prawns are another good option.

Distinctively sweet and firm, these shrimp are delicious and can be eaten raw or very gently cooked (no more than a couple minutes) to preserve their texture. Serve them Japanese-style, with a simple dipping sauce of soy sauce, rice vinegar, sesame oil and green onion.

Wild B.C. salmon is listed as sustainable but the Ocean Wise website recommends that consumers check seasonal reports for the most up-to-date information.  Wild Alaskan salmon is considered one of the best choices. Wild sockeye salmon, which is oily, deep red in colour and firm in texture can be served grilled with olive oil, salt and pepper.

Seafood can still be sampled sustainably

When choosing what seafood to use for your next meal, consider Ocean Wise’s four recommendations for sustainable selections.

An Ocean Wise recommended species is (according to the Ocean Wise website):

  1. Abundant and resilient to fishing pressures
  2. Well managed with a comprehensive management plan based on current research
  3. Harvested in a method that ensures limited bycatch on non-target and endangered species
  4. Harvested in ways that limit damage to marine or aquatic habitats and negative interactions with other species.

Reported by Simone Pfeiffer

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