“Most people don’t want to be part of the problem, they want to be part of the solution,” said chef Rob Clark as part of the closing remarks delivered last night to over 100 leaders from the seafood industry who came together to discuss the future of sustainable seafood at the Ocean Wise Seafood Symposium. The event brought together people with all different approaches and backgrounds on sustainable seafood.

Dr. Daniel Pauly, from the University of British Columbia fisheries department, kicked off the event and discussed how we are “fishing down” the trophic levels of the ocean. He also discussed the importance of small-scale fisheries, which land 40 per cent of the world’s reported annual catch, with significantly less bycatch and fewer subsidies than large scale fisheries.

Ocean Wise seafood symposium

Dr. Daniel Pauly looks at how we are removing top predators from the food chain through overfishing.

Dr. Wilf Swartz, also from the University of British Columbia, examined if price is the right signal of sustainability. Ideally, a high price would put a break on demand and the fishing pressure would ease, however in today’s highly globalized world, fish can be caught in a developing market and shipped halfway around the world for less than catching it at home. Swartz emphasized that a better informed public, through programs such as Ocean Wise, can help enforce local, sustainable and traceable seafood.

Ocean Wise Seafood Symposium

Is price correlated to sustainability? Dr. Swartz examines the connections.

On the other end of spectrum, Kathy Heise, research associate at the Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre, is looking at the impacts that increased shipping noises are having on ocean creatures including fish, whales and dolphins. The good news story is that we have a chance to make changes to legislation today that can have real impacts – especially in the Arctic where new shipping routes are just opening up.

Dolphin research at the Vancouver Aquarium

Kathy Heise is working with dolphins at the Aquarium to study noise impacts.

Santi Roberts flew in from the Monterey Bay Aquarium in California to speak about their national Seafood Watch program. Seafood Watch conducts detailed research on fish stocks, fisheries and eco systems to determine which seafood items are best to eat and which to avoid. Ocean Wise uses these recommendations as part of our sustainable seafood recommendations.

Dr. Rashid Sumaila, a director from the fisheries department of the University of British Columbia, may have summed up the cause of overfishing best when he said, “There is one global ocean. When we have a resource we can all access we have a tendency to overdo it.” Sumaila then shared ways governments can implement or remove subsidies to try and curb overfishing on the high seas.

Ocean Wise Seafood Symposium

Dr. Sumalia highlights how much of the world’s oceans are shared (dark blue).

Thank you to all of our guest speakers and participants who came together last night to further the mission of Ocean Wise™ sustainable seafood. The full list of speakers is available online.

We need to continue to discuss different ways people, organizations and government bodies can come together to make positive changes for our oceans. As chef Rob Clark remarked, “Ocean Wise makes it easy for us to become part of something greater than ourselves.” If you’re interested in learning how you can be part of the Ocean Wise program visit oceanwise.ca.

Missed the presentation last night? You can watch it online on the Vancouver Aquarium YouTube channel.

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