It’s hard to believe it has already been 10 years. In 2005, the Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre launched Ocean Wise: Canada’s first sustainable seafood program aimed at addressing the biggest issue facing our world’s oceans today: overfishing. The program started as a local initiative in Vancouver where we partnered with restaurant chefs to help identify and highlight sustainable seafood options on their menus.
Our Ocean Wise program grew from a base of 16 local restaurants into a national sustainable seafood program in 2009. Today, there are more than 600 partner businesses spanning coast to coast from St. John’s, Newfoundland, to Victoria, B.C., all of whom are dedicated to sourcing as many sustainable seafood options as possible.
Over the years, we have seen an increased awareness of sustainable seafood and a shift in the market towards more ocean-friendly choices. You’ll now find Ocean Wise options in fine dining restaurants as well as your local pub or fish and chip venue. The adoption of sustainable seafood has also expanded into different types of cuisines. In 2012, we partnered with our very first Chinese restaurant and, in 2013, the first 100 per cent Ocean Wise sushi restaurant opened in Toronto (there are now sushi restaurants offering 100 per cent Ocean Wise options in Prince Rupert and Vancouver).
As a result of all this hard work, our Ocean Wise program has been the proud recipient of a number of awards recognizing our work in the sustainable seafood movement. In 2009, we received the Pinnacle Award’s Supplier of the Year which is awarded to organizations who display innovation and authenticity while running socially and ethically minded businesses. In 2012, we were awarded not one, but two awards including Green Toronto’s Environmental Awareness Award recognizing individuals, organizations and companies that help lead the way to a cleaner, greener and more livable Toronto, as well as the CASCADE Award for Outstanding Science Engagement.
Looking back, our Ocean Wise program has come a long way since its start as a small, Vancouver initiative and, moving forward, there lies heaps of potential for growth. Throughout 2015 we will be joining up with some of our restaurant partners to host celebration events across Canada. Please join us in celebrating our 10 years of sustainable seafood success!