Sea of Love

18 Apr

How much do you love seafood?

Vancouverite Jane Mundy loves it so much, she’s determined to help pull us back from the brink of a world-wide fisheries collapse–something that could happen withing the next 30 years if industrial fishing continues at its present rate. Ninety percent of the world’s predatory fish are already gone–that means your tuna mayo sandwich contains one of the world’s last 10 percent of tuna fish.

You can’t just shop local for seafood, the way you do for vegetables, and be sure you’re helping the planet. All kind of factors come into play. Wild seafood is not always better than farmed, and what was sustainable last year, may no longer be OK 12 months from now. As they say on Facebook, it’s complicated.

Fortunately, Vancouver Aquarium’s Ocean Wise program makes things easier to figure out. You can download their iPhone App or visit their website to find out which stores are selling certified sustainable seafood near you, what to buy, and which restaurants in your area are offering ocean-friendly options on their menus.

Jane, a food writer with a background in marine biology, just edited The Ocean Wise Cookbook: Seafood recipes that are good for the planet, in collaboration with Vancouver Aquarium. It’s packed with recipes by Ocean Wise chefs from across Canada, as well as tips on everything from shopping to shucking–and it has the prettiest shimmering blue fishtail on the cover.

At her local Ocean Wise fishmonger, The Daily Catch, Jane shares her five favourite ocean-friendly picks…

1. Spring Salmon Fillet

“This salmon is moist and beautiful and full of Omega 3s. It’s hook-and-line caught–that’s one of the main things to consider: how a fish is caught. Hook and line is great, because there’s no by-catch [unintended catch, i.e. the starfish, sea turtles, eels and crabs that are caught by industrial shrimp fishers]. With a trawler, a lot of  the catch that is dead or dying gets thrown back into the ocean.”

2. Halibut Cheeks

“Fish cheeks are a relative newcomer to our palates… they weren’t used much 15 years ago; they were just thrown overboard. They have a lovely taste and texture, a bit like scallops. There’s a Halibut Cheeks and Leeks recipe in the book that comes from a fisherman’s wife. Restaurants like C, in Vancouver, started the trend.”

3. Saltspring Island Mussels

“These are beautifully plump and juicy, and almost foolproof for the home cook. You steam them until they’re just opened. There’s a great recipe for Mussels Congolaise in the book. Because of demand, there are many more varieties of mussels now, and they’ve found a way, through crossbreeding, of creating mussels without beards for the farms. All shellfish that are farmed are sustainable, and a lot of farmed fish, such as trout and catfish, are very good too. The main problems with farmed fish, like sea lice, lie with farmed salmon.”

4. Spot Prawns

“These are the sweetest, most succulent prawns I’ve ever tasted, and highly sustainable. There’s a Spot Prawn festival in Vancouver, and when the first boat comes in, people are already waiting, all lined up along the dock.”

5. Wild B.C. Sablefish

“This comes from Haida Gwaii. It is also known as black cod and buttercod–I guess they came up with ‘sablefish’ as a clever marketing ploy because they thought it was sexier.  This is a velvety fish with a smoky flavour; it’s great poached or steamed. It’s wonderful with Asian flavours too–it’s so versatile.”

6 Responses to “Sea of Love”

  1. Joy Munt April 19th, 2011 at 9:58 AM #

    Thats great to see that a sustainable fish store is on Commercial Dr. I am going to tell my friends. I would totally go there. Love that one can go on to the Vancouver Aquarium web-site to learn about sustainable fish and which stores sell them!

    • Valerie Howes April 19th, 2011 at 10:08 AM #

      The store was beautiful. It’s just been open a few months, I believe. It’s 100 percent Ocean Wise, so that makes the whole decision-making process a whole lot easier if you’re shopping with the environment in mind.

  2. Bill Bryce April 19th, 2011 at 5:21 PM #

    I’ve also shopped at the Daily Catch. What a find! The staff is friendly and knowledgeable, the store well-designed and spotlessly clean, and the product line tasty and environmentally sustainable!

  3. Marl April 29th, 2011 at 7:30 PM #

    Fish ‘cheeks’ are said to be new and not generally used 15 years ago. But, coming from the east coast of Canada we always ate fish cheeks both cod and halibut. I do agree they are delicious and well worth the search.

  4. Josh October 16th, 2011 at 6:40 PM #

    This place has you all fooled!
    Their Tilapia ISNT ocean wise
    They DONT wash their hands, knifes, surfaces or backroom
    They lie about the dates and freshness of their fish
    They lie about how many times the fish has been frozen, and were its come from
    They over charge you, and underpay their employees
    Don’t promote their poor ethics by shopping there!
    P.S Don’t eat the crab cakes unless you want to puke it all up a few hours later.

  5. James November 28th, 2011 at 6:09 PM #


    You sound like a very angry person that spends more time telling lies than the truth. I go in the store at least once a week, it is clean, and 100 percent sanitary. Never been lied to or sold a product that made me sick. Maybe you had better check out your kitchen and make sure you wash your hands after using the wash room. It might explain why you get sick from your cooking.

    Signed, one very happy customer.

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