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Welcome Deirdre Finn!
The new manager of Ocean Wise Seafood talks aquaculture, new horizons and why she's really digging bivalves these days.
Posted on August 23, 2018
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What are you most looking forward to in your new role as the manager of the Ocean Wise Seafood program?

I am most looking forward to working more closely with my talented team of passionate sustainable seafood advocates and researchers, as well as forging new relationships with our program ambassadors across Canada to bring the Ocean Wise seafood program to the next level.

Over the past 13 years, we have worked incredibly hard to increase awareness of sustainable seafood, but more importantly the solutions to overfishing. More than ever before, people are looking for the story behind their seafood. Where did it come from? How was it caught? Who caught it?

I’m excited to make that decision a little bit easier for consumers at the grocery store or in a restaurant

With her long-time love of the ocean, Deirdre Finn (right) is a perfect choice as the new manager of Ocean Wise Seafood.

How long have you worked for Ocean Wise?

I began volunteering with Ocean Wise in Toronto in 2014, but I’ve officially worked with organization for 3 ½ years now. Unsurprisingly, several of our staff also started as volunteers before joining the team.

I began in our eastern office as a Program Coordinator where I supported events, worked with local restaurants to bring them on board as partners and engaged with consumers at outreach events. After nine months in that role, I was promoted to Account Representative, where I was responsible for growing the Ocean Wise seafood program in Eastern Canada by leading the strategy for partner growth, consumer awareness and be the leading voice of the Ocean Wise program in the region.

I completed a B.Sc. (Honours) in Marine and Freshwater Biology from the University of Guelph, as well as a Strategic Marketing Certificate from Ryerson University. Prior to joining Ocean Wise, I held key positions in broadcast media where I worked in content development and programming for the Food Network and HGTV. My 3+ years in program series development provided me with a profound understanding of consumer interests in food, a practical knowledge of program management and opportunity to work with some of North America’s leading celebrity chefs. 

Deirdre cage-diving with her sister and some sharks off Port Lincoln in Southern Australia.

You’re a Vancouver gal. You must be excited to move back?

After 12 years in Ontario, there’s no doubt that I’m excited to finally move back to the west coast. Trading in my snow boots for rain boots is something I’ve been longing for quite some time. Returning to the Pacific Ocean to work alongside top professionals within a global leader in ocean conservation at our headquarters in Stanley Park is an incredible opportunity that I’m extremely excited for. Plus, lunch breaks spent wandering the galleries at the Vancouver Aquarium doesn’t sound so bad either!

That said, Ontario is my second home and will always hold a special place in my heart. Over my 3+ years with Ocean Wise in Toronto, I have met countless seafood leaders – chefs, restauranteurs, grocers, fish mongers and suppliers, likeminded NGO’s – who all believe in our program and support the great work we’re doing in the region.

Without their support, Ocean Wise Seafood would not have thousands of locations across Canada for diners and seafood lovers to choose from. Who knows, after 40 days of consecutive rain in Vancouver, I might find myself dusting off those snow boots and booking a plane ticket to visit my old stomping ground in the 6ix!

Deidre Finn (right) with Ocean Wise Executive Chef Ned Bell and Chef Charlotte Langley, last year’s Toronto Chowder Chowdown People’s Choice winner.

What got you interested in sustainable seafood?

I grew up eating seafood almost every day. From BC shellfish to wild salmon, it was an essential part of my diet. From an early age, my parents instilled in me the importance of knowing where the seafood on my plate came from and always purchased seafood from small, local fishmongers.

After moving to Ontario to attend university, I was shocked to see how disconnected people in other parts of the country were from their seafood. The information I felt I needed to make good choices wasn’t available, so I stopped eating seafood altogether and decided to do something about it.

I began learning about seafood, the Ocean Wise program, and committed to using those sustainability guidelines to steer my purchasing decisions. Today (apart from the occasional slip-up – I have a weakness for prosciutto), I’ve become a self-proclaimed pescatarian or “seafood-only” eater. Essentially a vegetarian that just can’t kick the delicious things that come from our lakes, rivers and oceans. I still eat seafood a couple times a week, but I try to limit my impact by primarily eating smaller portions of fish or species that are lower on the trophic level, like shrimp, mussels, clams, scallops.

Deirdre sampling the incredible local tea, food and wine in the Prince Edward County region of Ontario.

What changes do you see in the future for Ocean Wise Seafood?

As we continue to navigate the ever-changing seafood landscape, you can expect to see Ocean Wise Seafood playing a leading role across every level of the seafood supply chain, including grocery stores in Eastern Canada and Quebec. Whether it be in a restaurant, at a fish counter, or on packaged product, we want every Canadian across the country to recognize our symbol and feel assured that their purchase supports healthy, well-managed fisheries and farms.

Additionally, aquaculture —the farming of fish and seafood — continues to be the fastest growing food sector on the planet. Better education and messaging about responsible aquaculture — the what, where, how and why — will be an area of major focus for our program as we continue to grow across Canada and abroad.

What sustainable seafood are you digging right now?

Pretty much anything with shells, I’m game. Oysters, mussels, clams, scallops, you name it. Apart from being incredibly sustainable and readily available from both coasts – most are farmed and require zero inputs in order to grow – the incredible diversity of flavours make them hard to beat. Raw, grilled, fried, or even steamed, you can find them just about anywhere in Canada (if you know where to look). Hint: we have an app for that. The best part? They are usually very affordable and are super easy to prepare. A win-win-win for the environment, your inner chef, and your wallet.

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