A Recap of Foodtalks – From Boat to Table

As someone whose parents who did much to lower the sustainability level of rainbow trout by dragging my sorry ass out of bed at 3am to fish the heck out of the river under the Star Mine Suspension Bridge in Drumheller, Alberta until our cooler held 50 fishes, the concept of ocean wise sustainability hits close to home or rather my stomach where raw fish is a daily staple in my diet. The 2016 edition of the Foodtalks was more than listening to important individuals who play a vital factor in implementing systems to sustain our oceans, but the behind the scene tour of the Vancouver Aquarium was an interesting peek into the operational aspect of running an aquarium.

img_8930The top of the shark tank

Behind closed doors we saw tanks full of young jellyfish, fish and reptiles who won’t join the aquarium life until they mature. But the most interesting back scene was the top of the shark tank where we were inches away from dorsal fins of the main reason why he don’t ever step foot in oceans when travelling to warm destinations.  After the tour we had ample opportunity to tour the aquarium although the seal and beluga whale exhibits were closed.



Although I’ve eaten at Fable Kitchen and Fable Diner, I had no idea that Chef Trevor Bird , co-owner of these popular farm-to-table restaurants with implemented Meet Me, a meat share program where you pre-purchase meat from farmers ensuring that you get the freshest meat and thus ensuring that farming dies not become obsolete.

Trevor has been fortunate to participate in many culinary ventures international but noted that chefs in other countries such as Hong Kong aren’t concerned about sustainability as Chilean Sea Bass would sometimes appear on menus., Trevor only serves three fish in his restaurant – salmon , Halibut and tuna and ponders the question – how do we as Canadians with a successful Ocean Wise program influence international restaurants.


Teddie Geach, as the Ocean Wise Seafood Specialist; Vancouver Aquarium works directly with suppliers to ensure that sustainability procedures are followed. Her concerns are that fish in supermarkets are often mislabelled due to the fact that when whole fish are fileted that takes away the ability to distinguish one species from another. Also labelling doesn’t indicate if the fish is farmed or wild which is often a consumer’s concern.

Some frightening statistics that most people aren’t aware of is that we have access to international seafood of which 50% of seafood is farmed while the remains 50% is wild hunt. 90% of our fish stock is overfished or already fished and 85% of our seafood is imported so it can be processed and then imported back to BC.

Ocean Wise is Vancouver aquarium”s program whose mission is to educate and maintain sustainable. Originally a program focused on local BC fisheries and fishermen, it’s a program that other provinces have had the implemented. Download the Ocean Wise app to find an Ocean Wise restaurant near you.



Mike McDermid, who was named one of the Globe & Mail’s Top 53 Canadian Food Influencers and has worked seven years on the Ocean Wise program, is so wildly passionate about sustainability that if you stroll into The Fish Counter and ask for Chilean Sea Bass he’s liable to jump over the counter and hit you with a whole chum Salmon or whatever fish is in season.

At the Fish Counter nothing is wasted so tails and heads are part of soup de jour so don’t be surprised to see a fish eye winking at you in the soup pot. Only Local Fresh sustainable fish are on the menu and Mike knows when and where each fish is caught and whether it’s fresh or flash frozen fresh at sea which actually keeps the fish fresh for a longer period of time as opposed to fish been frozen when they’re starting to go bad which is a practice that some stores might employ to reduce wasted products.



Guy Dean, Vice President and CSO of Albion Farms and Fisheries – the largest seafood distributor in Western Canada, and co-founder of Sea Pact, a non-profit  group of seafood companies focused on engaging activities that promote positive change in the oceans across the world.  Through projects such as the Main Soft Shell Claim FIP, Brazilian Lobster FIP and WWF Cilean Farmed Salmon AIP, Sea Pact hopes to improve the sustainability of global seafood.



Every night when Sonia and Shaun Strobel sit down for dinner together, they know exactly when and where their daily meal of fish is caught. As founders of Skipper Otto’s Community Supported Fishery (and husband and wife), their mission is to act as a liaison between local fishermen and consumers. This is a symbolic relationship wherein fisherman benefit by receiving money for overhead costs before the year’s harvest while consumers are ensured that their purchases are boat-to-table fresh. This program is great for any budget as your “shares” can be spent any way you choose. For instance, if you buy $100 of shares, you may wish to spend it on a year where chum salmon is plentiful, thus getting more bang for your fish bucks.



Editor in Chief of Fabulously Frugal in Vancouver.

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