By Mike McDermid
GLOBE-Net, April 5, 2012 - 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
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
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
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
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
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
Mike McDermid is the partner relations manager of Ocean Wise
at the Vancouver Aquarium