The Vancouver Aquarium Ocean Wise™ program creates market demand for sustainable seafood by identifying sustainable seafood on menus across Canada so that consumers can easily identify ocean-friendly dishes. That being said, people are always perplexed when I explain that I am a marine biologist who works with the restaurant industry. They usually ask, “So what exactly do you do?” If you have ever wondered the same, here is a glimpse into the workings of the Ocean Wise program:

Partner Relationships

Most of my time is spent at the office where I communicate with our partners. I send seafood recommendation updates so that all partners are equipped with current scientific information in order to make purchasing and menu decisions. I also help new restaurants join the program, train restaurant staff on Ocean Wise practices and recommendations, and help to highlight all the great work our partners do via the Ocean Wise social media channels.While I interact with all types of partners, recently I’ve been focusing on our hotel and retailer partnerships.

Ocean Wise sustainable seafood program

Most days are office days corresponding with our parterns across the country.

Professional Development

The Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre provides various professional development opportunities for staff. This means that as the coordinator who manages our hotel partners, I recently got to spend two days in the kitchens of Fairmont Pacific Rim, where I learned how Oru restaurant efficiently services the dining room, receptions, private dinner parties, and in-room dining all at once. I also spent time at RawBar, Vancouver’s only 100 per cent Ocean Wise sushi restaurant. Here I saw first hand how dedicated the chefs are to perfecting their sushi using sustainable, top-quality, and mostly local ingredients. I even got to help with plating at Oru and wielding the blowtorch at RawBar! Spending one-on-one time with the chefs in their world showed me how passionate they are about ensuring that there is seafood for generations to come, and I came away from the experience with an even greater appreciation of all that they do.

Ocean Wise staff training

Claire gets hands on at the Fairmont for staff training.

Evening Events

Being part of the Ocean Wise team means that I am fortunate to attend a variety of evening events. Events can include anything from fundraising galas, to restaurant award ceremonies, and sustainable seafood dinners. Events are always the perfect opportunity to network with our Ocean Wise partners and the general public while satisfying my inner foodie.

Night at the Vancouver Aquarium

Claire (right) attends Night at the Aquarium.


The Ocean Wise team also likes to give back by volunteering with programs like the Vancouver Aquarium, Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup, presented by Loblaw Companies Limited. Recently, I volunteered at the celebration event at Iona Beach. Even in bad weather, hundreds of people showed up to clean up our shorelines. I helped to register participants, hand out radios, and serve cake after the cleanup, all decked out in full raingear that I hadn’t used since my master’s research when I was spending time on boats collecting fish samples!

Ocean Wise volunteering

Claire and the Ocean Wise team lends a hand at the shoreline cleanup celebration event.

Conferences and Workshops

As a non-profit organization, Ocean Wise is often invited to speak at conferences or workshops. The most recent one I attended was the BC Shellfish and Seafood Festival in Comox where I led two different workshops. One was industry-focused where I talked about consumer demand and the seafood market. The other was a cooking demo together with chef Ned Bell where I talked about the sustainability of geoducks.

Ocean wise sustainable seafood training

Claire conducts a training sessions for Ocean Wise partners.

Community Events

Ocean Wise appreciates the opportunity to interact with the public and speak to consumers directly. We have been in booths at the Spot Prawn Festival, screenings of documentaries, farmer’s markets, Feast of Fields, and many more. We usually have an interactive game to encourage people to ask questions, and my favourite one is our match the fillet to the fish game as seen in the featured image above.

Working with Ocean Wise allows me to always do something different yet continuously work towards the goal of ensuring ocean-friendly seafood for generations to come. If you are looking for ways to get involved with Ocean Wise, join our team of volunteers via the Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre website.

Interested in learning more about the Ocean Wise program? Visit us online or email our team at [email protected].

Blog post by Claire Li, Ocean Wise coordinator.

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