The Importance of Sustainable Seafood

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by Kyle Groves

Enjoy your meal without harming the ocean.Hyatt salmon photo

As we enter the warmer months, we naturally start to look for lighter fare when deciding what to eat. As the executive chef of Catch & the Oyster Bar, I’m naturally drawn to seafood. Not just any seafood though—only fresh and sustainable seafood.

Fresh seafood is a no brainer, but many of us don’t automatically think about how important sustainability is. Although Alberta is landlocked, overfishing impacts all of us, no matter where we live.

Did you know that overfishing is the biggest issue facing our oceans today, and that we have already taken 90 percent of large predatory fish out of the oceans? Or that recent studies have indicated that without changes to how consumers choose seafood, the world’s fisheries will collapse by 2048? Most people don’t.

As a consumer, you play a role in this issue. It’s important to ask yourself how you can be a part of the solution. One answer is to start choosing sustainable seafood offerings whenever possible.

ow_program_logo_blue copyThe Ocean Wise program, created by the Vancouver Aquarium, is an excellent resource that educates consumers about sustainable seafood. The program uses four criteria to determine if a species is sustainable:

  1. Abundant population, resilient to fishing pressures.
  2. Well-managed population, with a comprehensive management plan based on current research.
  3. Harvested in a way that limits unintentional catching of other species.
  4. Harvested in ways that limit damage to aquatic habitats and negative interactions with other species.

 

Knowing these four guidelines is the starting point to ensuring our oceans are stocked and able to feed future generations.

The Ocean Wise site (www.oceanwise.ca) lists restaurants and retailers that participate in the program, and has a database of recommended seafood choices. To simplify shopping, Ocean Wise has developed an iPhone app (available through the Ocean Wise website or the Apple Store) that shows you where Ocean Wise seafood is available within your city.

Your next question might be “What are the best seafood choices I can make?” Shop and eat based on what’s in season. Different species become available to eat at different times throughout the year. Fresh BC halibut is usually available from March until October. Fresh wild salmon is in season during the summer, while shellfish like mussels, clams and oysters are available year round but are typically at their very best in the coldest winter months.

When looking for seafood out of season, look for products labelled “FAS,” which indicates that they were frozen at sea to preserve their freshness. BC sablefish is an incredible choice that is almost always found frozen at sea.

Protecting the oceans doesn’t mean giving up seafood. There are abundant options for easy-to-find, fresh, sustainable seafood. If we all start to respect the oceans by following guidelines like the ones set up by Ocean Wise, we will continue to enjoy seafood far into the future.

Recipe

Spicy Rhubarb Ceviche

Serves up to 4 as a small appetizer

IngredientsHyatt scallops

1 lb. fresh rhubarb, juiced

4 limes, juiced

1 serrano pepper

8 oz. of different seafood, such as BC spot prawns, ling cod, and weathervane scallops

4 oz. fresh heart of palm, cut into thin rings

2 oz. celery, diced small

3 oz. peeled seeded cucumber, diced small

Maldon sea salt to taste

Cilantro to garnish

Direction

Mix the rhubarb juice, lime juice and serrano pepper together and taste the liquid for the desired sourness and heat.

Mix the seafood in with the juices and let it sit refrigerated for at least 10 minutes.

Reserving the liquid, arrange the seafood neatly in a serving dish with all of the vegetables mixed in, or divide among four small plates.

Pour the reserved liquid over the seafood; season with Maldon sea salt and garnish with cilantro.

Kyle Groves is the executive chef at Catch & the Oyster Bar, which recently became the first seafood restaurant in Calgary to serve 100 percent Ocean Wise seafood. A graduate of the culinary program at Southern Alberta Institute of Technology, he has been named one of Avenue magazine’s Top 40 Under 40. He is an advocate for sustainable seafood, educating consumers on how they can make more sustainable choices.

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