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Why Canada Needs a Sustainable Seafood Day

Open Door is a regular Eater feature where industry insiders open up. This week YEW chef Ned Bell Executive Chef – YEW seafood and Robert Clark (The Fish Counter) went to Ottawa to join with other chefs to host an evening of sustainable seafood for MPS on Parliament Hill. Ned, Ann-Marie Copping, Vancouver Aquarium's Ocean Wise Program Manager and Lana Gunnlaugson, National SeaChoice Manager wrote an Op-Ed column explaining why Canada needs this special day.
[Photo via @FourSeasons/Twitter]

Chef Ned Bell:

We had about 150 people turn up to our event as parliament was sitting that night and MPs came by to hear our pitch and have great seafood. The next day I did a press conference which went well too. It was an extraordinary experience; you see that parliament is a big machine, but we're getting one step closer. I liken Sustainable Seafood Day to the Terry Fox initiative; it's kind of like an official 'feel good' day. You have one day a year where we celebrate nationally, we do so well regionally, especially in Vancouver, but to have sustainable seafood bought to the top of mind for everyone across Canada would be awesome. What can people do? Sign the petition.

As we speak, our oceans are suffering from overfishing; coastal communities across Canada continue to deal with the repercussions of collapsing fisheries; seafood is mislabelled and too often lacks traceability. These are all signs pointing to the same issue—we are causing serious problems in the oceans. But Canadians do not support irresponsible fishing or irresponsible aquaculture practices. According to a survey conducted by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), 91 per cent of Canadians think that the fish and seafood we're buying should come from sustainable and plentiful stocks. With such overwhelming support for ocean-friendly seafood, it only makes sense to dedicate a National Sustainable Seafood Day on Canada's calendar.

This is just what MP Fin Donnelly has proposed to do. Through a private member's motion he is calling on Canada to designate March 18 as a National Sustainable Seafood Day. It's more than a day to celebrate delicious (and sustainable) seafood—it is a day that will raise awareness around the urgent need to shift the seafood supply in Canada towards more sustainable choices. National Seafood Day is needed to celebrate ocean-friendly seafood and show support for keeping Canada's three oceans healthy.

Building the foundation for National Sustainable Seafood Day began two years ago at the Canadian Chefs' Congress near the Bay of Fundy, Nova Scotia. The Vancouver Aquarium's Ocean Wise program™ and SeaChoice co-hosted two sustainable seafood-tasting workshops with Chef Ned Bell. The passion for sustainable seafood shared by some of Canada's top chefs and these environmental groups sparked the idea for National Sustainable Seafood Day while giving us a common purpose for continuing this collaboration.

There is an increasing demand in Canada, and around the world, for ocean-friendly
seafood options. This demand is helping to initiate innovative solutions to improve traditional harvest and production methods. Supporting a day dedicated to sustainable seafood is needed to continue building awareness and the demand for ocean-friendly seafood.

Collaboration in support of National Sustainable Seafood Day continues to grow with support from Greenpeace Canada, WWF Canada and the All-Party Ocean Caucus. On March 4, 2014, Greenpeace Canada, the Ocean Caucus, Vancouver Aquarium's Ocean Wise program, SeaChoice and WWF Canada co-hosted a sustainable seafood tasting with celebrity chefs across Canada on Parliament Hill in Ottawa to share this important message with MPs and Senators.

With a growing Canadian appetite for sustainable seafood, the time is now for our government to join us in supporting responsible seafood choices for all Canadians and our oceans.
· Ocean Wise [Official Site]
· Fin Donnelly [Official Site]