IGA Supermarkets offering Ocean Wise Fish

Photo: Remy Scalza

Fresh fish is a staple of Vancouver cuisine, but making smart and sustainable seafood choices isn’t always easy.  Those king crabs may look delicious, but they’re being fished to extinction in many parts of the world.  Same goes for Chilean seabass, the slow-reproducing rockfish and dozens of other species.

To help Vancouverites make good seafood decisions, the Ocean Wise program was launched in 2005.  A unique partnership between researchers at Vancouver Aquarium and area restaurants, Ocean Wise selects sustainable fish based on multiple factors, including how plentiful they are and how eco-conscious the catch method is.  Participating restaurants then agree to feature selected fish on their menus.  An Ocean Wise symbol lets diners know they’re making an ocean-friendly choice.

That’s great when you’re eating out, but what about when you’re cooking at home?  Recognizing that consumers want guidance at the supermarket as well, Ocean Wise has just started a unique new partnership with Marketplace IGA, one of the area’s largest supermarkets, with 43 locations across BC.   What that means is that you can walk into any IGA, look for the Ocean Wise logo – on everything from Dungeness crab to Albacore tuna – and know that you’re making a smart, sustainable seafood choice.

IGA isn’t the first retailer to partner up with Ocean Wise, but it is certainly one of the largest.  Making sustainable seafood mainstream is a big step toward protecting the incredible diversity in BC waters.  And even if you don’t shop at IGA, there are easy ways to make sure that the seafood you buy is sustainable.

The group SeaChoice distributes a handy wallet guide at the Vancouver Aquarium and other locations that divides fish into three categories: Best Choice (like Canadian spot prawns and farmed Arctic char); Some Concerns (like Atlantic lobsters and Pacific sole); and Avoid (like Atlantic cod and orange roughy).

Better still, there’s a SeaChoice app you can download free for your iPhone that lets you look up the sustainability of any fish instantly.

For a complete list of Ocean Wise restaurants and retailers, check out the Ocean Wise website.

Any fans of the Ocean Wise program out there? I think they offer a great free service to the community.

Remy Scalza

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