Last week, I had the great opportunity to attend Boston’s Seafood Expo North America 2016. If you haven’t heard of this show before, it is North America’s largest seafood show that brings together thousands of suppliers and buyers from countries all over the world who gather for three days under one roof to discover new products, gain exposure, and make connections. The show is a frenzy of business deals and networking, and the energy is infectious.
Ocean Wise had the chance to be in the British Columbia pavilion; a bustling area of the tradeshow where multiple B.C. seafood companies gathered in one spot so that the province was clearly represented. This also made it easier for potential buyers to locate B.C. seafood producers. Over the three days, I met a variety of people; everyone from Chinese buyers interested in sustainability, to representatives from other NGOs, to journalists who cover the seafood industry, and of course many producers and suppliers of seafood.
Being in the B.C. pavilion was a great advantage as I was able to direct many people to our fantastic partners a couple booths away. If someone was looking for sustainable caviar, I pointed them in the direction of Northern Divine — an inland aquaculture operation from Sechelt. Someone wanted to know what the Ocean Wise logo looked like on retail packaging, so I referred them to Simply West Coast Foods who were displaying Ocean Wise seafood chowder. Wild B.C. salmon? The BC Salmon Marketing Council was next door and was happy to talk to an inquirer. When someone asked whether farmed seafood is sustainable, we talked about how it can be and I spoke of the excellent shellfish farms from Comox as well as the upcoming BC Shellfish and Seafood Festival.
On top of connecting with people at our Ocean Wise booth on the tradeshow floor, I also attended a couple of conference sessions including a talk on human rights abuses in the seafood industry, sustainable aquaculture, and the future of eco-labeling — the practice of marking products to show that they conform to recognized environmental standards. Getting the chance to hear from industry experts is always valuable as it ensures that I am aware of the most current issues in the seafood industry. One of the show highlights for Ocean Wise was the opportunity for our Ocean Wise manager to meet with our new Canadian Fisheries Minister Hunter Tootoo.
Evenings were full of reception events which allowed for (yet more!) networking with my peers in the seafood industry. Despite a packed schedule which sometimes involved hopping from reception to reception, I was still able to make it out to a few local restaurants. After all, an avid interest in exploring new local dining scenes is almost a must when one works for Ocean Wise! If you are ever traveling and unsure about the sustainability of unfamiliar seafood, a good rule of thumb is to stick to the shellfish. As such, I indulged in a spread of the local Atlantic offerings. I tried littleneck clams, hardshell clams, razor clams, oysters from every “merroir” I could find, and fresh day-boat scallops. It occurred to me that my Boston dinners were not unlike those of the sea otters at the Vancouver Aquarium who enjoy an Ocean Wise diet rich in shellfish!
After 10 days of traveling which included my Boston adventure, as well as a few hiccups such as snow storms, cancelled flights, and one all-nighter (but that’s another story), I was able to help Ocean Wise gain some important exposure, represent British Columbia, spread the word about sustainable seafood, and support our numerous partners.
Blog post by Claire Li, Vancouver Aquarium’s Ocean Wise Program Western Account Representative
Overfishing is the single biggest threat our oceans face today. With more than 650 partners across Canada, Ocean Wise makes it easy for consumers to make sustainable seafood choices that ensure the health of our oceans for generations to come. The Ocean Wise symbol next to a seafood item is the Vancouver Aquarium’s assurance of an ocean-friendly seafood choice. www.oceanwise.ca