World Oceans Day: What Exactly is The Ocean Wise Program?

school of fish in ocean

( It’s World Oceans Day, so today we thought we’d cover a major ocean-friendly program based right here in Vancouver.

You’ve likely seen the Ocean Wise logo on menus around town or heard waitstaff at restaurants mention they serve Ocean Wise seafood. But do you really know what Ocean Wise means? It’s the Vancouver Aquarium’s “seal of approval” for sustainable seafood, and the 31,000 locations across Canada that use the logo work closely with Aquarium program staff to ensure they are serving seafood that is sustainable and ocean-friendly.

So what exactly does ocean-friendly mean? It means both that the species of fish is abundant and that the methods used to harvest it do not harm the ocean or other species. For a seafood item to earn the Ocean Wise seal, it must be:

  1. Abundant and resilient to fishing pressure
  2. Managed as part of a comprehensive plan based on current research
  3. Harvested in ways that limit bycatch of other, possibly endangered species
  4. Harvested in ways that limit damage to ocean habitats

How Can You Tell is Seafood is Ocean Wise?

On menus and at markets, look for the Ocean Wise seal. It is only available to partners who are working with the Ocean Wise program to ensure they make ocean-friendly seafood choices. The seal looks like this one.

ocean wise logo

Plus, there’s a new Ocean Wise iPhone app, which provides current Ocean Wise species recommendations and can help you find the nearest Ocean Wise partner restaurant or supplier.

You can also find  a full list of Ocean Wise partners at on the Ocean Wise website.

Does Ocean Wise Really Matter?

Sustainable seafood is something we all need to care about to ensure the health of our oceans and to ensure we have a stable supply of seafood for generations to come. The Ocean Wise program not only helps promote sustainable seafood – the other side of the equation is that it helps get unsustainable options off of menus. On that front, they’re having some great success. Between 2005 and 2009, for example, 40 restaurants stopped serving the unsustainable black tiger prawns.

Ocean Wise Events Happening this Weekend

Tonight (June 8), YEW restaurant at the Four Seasons is hosting an Ocean Wise dinner celebrating the Indian, Pacific, Atlantic, and Southern oceans. The reception starts at 6:30, with dinner at 7 p.m. Tickets are $160 and include food, wine pairings, tax, and tip, with a portion of the proceeds benefiting the Ocean Wise program. You can make your reservations by calling 604-609-5480.

On Saturday (June 9), Thrifty Foods is having its annual Halibut Festival at the Admirals location in Victoria. From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. they’ll be selling ultra-fresh Ocean Wise BC halibut at special festival pricing. Plus, you can try out the seafood tasting stations and learn how to properly filet halibut.

Tell Us: Do you look for Ocean Wise options when dining at local restaurants or purchasing fish to cook at home? Share your thoughts about this Vancouver-based program in the comments.

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