Saturday, October 10, 2009


If your from Vancouver and you like to eat out you will have noticed the
Ocean Wise
seal of approved sustainable seafood stamp. Something that i have recently started researching is how they know it's Sustainable. I came upon Seachoice a organization that is stamped by my favorite enviromental activist David Suzuki and his foundation. Sea Choice does active scientific testing to determine what seafood is safe to eat and scale of Red (avoid, almost extinct), Yellow (moderate, try to avoid), Green (eat your heart out). Click here to check it out. Based on this list i have ventured to some restaurants around town and begun to ask questions.
What i found shocking that the restaurants with the Ocean Wise stamp don't provide there employees or customers with direct information on where there seafood is coming from, or how it is caught which ultimately determines if it is safe and sustainable to eat. Ocean Wise has also been stamping items that are clearly not sustainable (due to SeaChoices findings) and restaurants and the public have been so trusting that we haven't been questioning this.
I don't really understand what Ocean Wise has to gain from providing false information to the public, or where they have come off being the enviromental backers of what is sustainable when they do very little research. In all fairness some of the food is great to eat, but when the stamp there symbol they should know where and how it's caught, or else you might as well be eating a baby panda.


  1. Hi Angela,
    I think that you have a couple of misconceptions about Ocean Wise that I feel are necessary to clear up
    Firstly Ocean Wise works directly with partner businesses to help them identify and source sustainable options. That means auditing all of their seafood items, helping them understand why they are or are not sustainable (i.e. where they are caught/cultured, how they are caught/cultured, and the exact species in question) and helping them find solutions to unsustainable options. Ocean Wise also provides staff training to their partners to help their staff answer consumers questions.
    Ocean Wise most certainly does not "stamp" items that are not sustainable. I'm not exactly sure why you would think that and would be interested to hear an example of this. Ocean Wise not only does do their own research, but also works with groups such as SeaChoice and many others to help businesses identify best options. Not only that, Ocean Wise works directly with seafood supply companies, fishers and farmers to help identify and increase accountability and chain of custody for products that end up on your plate through Ocean Wise partner businesses.
    In 95% of cases, Ocean Wise options correspond to the SeaChoice "green" category with a few specific exceptions. In no case would a SeaChoice 'red' item be considered Ocean Wise.
    The Ocean Wise businesses commit to continuous improvement - removing unsustainable items and highlighting sustainable ones. It is important to have the best options clearly identified so that it makes it easy for us as consumers to make the right choice and as we "vote with our wallets" we create incentive for fishermen to conduct their operations in a more sustainable manner.
    Thanks for blogging on an important topic and I hope this has helped clear up some misconceptions about Ocean Wise.

  2. whoops! sorry vanessa - not sure why i put "hi angela" up there!

  3. Interesting... I have also been in several Ocean Wise restaurant locations over the past couple of years and I ask questions about the seafood all the time. Not once have I EVER had a server or manager for that matter tell me why this fish is deemed sustainable. That practice disputes the claim made by the previous post about education. I ask these questions because I truly care about where my food comes from.

    In fact, I have looked though the Ocean Wise website and do not see a list of what fish is deemed Ocean Wise and what is not. I don't know how the previous poster can also make claims that 95% of the Ocean Wise list is on the SeaChoice "Best Choice" list? In several restaurants I've been in all wild salmon and halibut are deemed as Ocean Wise, but both species (which coincidentally are probably the two largest selling fish) are listed as Ocean Wise, but are clearly on the "some concerns" list with SeaChoice. How can Ocean Wise label salmon as sustainable given the horrible news this summer over millions of missing Salmon?

    Here's a challenge for Ocean Wise... SHOW ME THE LIST and let ME compare it to what SeaChoice says... It's easy to just make claims about 95% of the Ocean Wise products are on the green list without actually putting up any information to back up your claims. That's a pretty weak argument. Show me the exceptions and tell me WHY they are exceptions. Until then... hogwash!

    There are several restaurants that are Ocean Wise partners that clearly have unsustainable items on their menu. I'm not an expert, but isn't it misleading for a restaurant to say they have Ocean Wise tiger shrimp? I was in Zin about three months ago and had a heart attack over this menu item - and it was listed as Ocean Wise. According to all the news I've EVER read, (and after checking with SeaChoice) there is no such thing as a "Best Choice" tiger shrimp, and once again, clearly disputes the previous poster's comments about nothing on the Avoid list being listed as Ocean Wise.

    On another note, I've been visiting Vancouver Island over the past few weeks and noticed in a Thrifty's store that their seafood counters are now also Ocean Wise. I pull out my handy SeaChoice list and see that snapper is listed as an "Avoid", but it is in a seafood counter that is proudly saying they are Ocean Wise? The way it was presented in store goves the impression that ALL the seafood is Ocean Wise, which it clearly is not, and once again disputes the claims made by the previous post.

    I have been quietly watching this Ocean Wise program for the last couple years and I'm glad I'm not the only one who's seen these glaring errors and lack of information about the seafood that Ocean Wise claims is sustainable. Until they can begin to provide some REAL information instead of just huge lists of "partners", I consider the whole thing a borderline greenwash.

    Good for you VANESSA to bring up this important topic. Nice to see I'm not the only one paying attention. I think it's about time Ocean Wise does the same.

  4. i agree oceanwise is a pile of bs.