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choosing sustainable seafood

Selecting Sustainable Seafood

How Choosing Sustainable Seafood Can Support Our Oceans

 Is your fish ‘n’ chips, seafood cocktails, clam chowder or cedar-planked salmon sustainable seafood? However you enjoy eating your seafood, how do you know whether your choice is sustainable?

What is sustainable seafood

Over the past 20 years, the demand for seafood has significantly increased as people look to make healthier choices in their diets. This demand is placing huge pressure on our oceans and fish stocks.

According to Ocean Wise.org, it is estimated that 90% of the world’s fish stocks are overfished using harmful catch methods and that 4 out of every 10 fish caught are bycatch – which means they were not the target species and end up as waste. With the additional issues of climate change and pollution to contend with; our oceans are struggling.

As people who love spending time on the water, we want to keep our aquatic environments and sea-life healthy both for us and for future generations. The good news is that nature is resilient, and if we start making the right choices now, our ocean ecosystems have a good chance of bouncing back.

When you choose sustainable seafood, you are helping increase demand for ocean-friendly practices in the seafood industry which will ultimately lead to healthier marine habitats.

What is Sustainable Seafood?

Sustainable seafood is species that are caught or farmed in a way that ensures the stability of both that species and the general marine ecosystems in the future. Sustainable seafood production:

How choosing sustainable can support our oceans

  • Stops overfishing of species 
  • Reduces habitat destruction
  • Reduces negative impacts on other ocean wildlife and habitats
  • Takes into account the economic and social impacts on the communities that rely on the seafood industry

Whether your seafood is sustainable can depend on:

Maintenance of a healthy population – some species have been overfished almost to extinction, but when good stock management and regulations are in place, species have a chance to thrive sustainably.

Catch method – some fishing and harvesting processes, such as seafloor dredging, can cause significant damage to marine habitats and other fish species. Sustainable harvesting, such as line and pole, targets single species in smaller numbers and is therefore more sustainable.

Carbon footprint – in order to get seafood to the consumer at its freshest, it’s often shipped by air, rail or road across long distances. Locally sourced seafood, previously frozen and tinned seafood all have a lower environmental impact.

Can Farmed Fish Be Sustainable?

Aquaculture, the farming of fish and other seafood, can be sustainable when good practices are used. On-land fish farming limits chances for disease, pollution and damage to ocean environments; farmed shellfish such as oysters, clams, mussels and scallops are even considered to be beneficial to the surrounding habitat.

How Do I Know if My Choice is Sustainable?

How do I know if my choice is sustainable

When faced with the multitude of seafood choices at a store or on a restaurant menu, how do you know which choices are sustainable?

One of the easiest things consumers can do is to look for seafood which has been approved by a regarded organization like those listed below. Grocery stores and restaurants across the world have signed up to support these programs and display signs or labels indicating the most sustainable seafood choices.

Each organization has its own definition and benchmarks for sustainably-sourced seafood, but they all strive to help you make better choices.

Ocean Wise – The best known seafood ranking program in Canada which bases its recommendations on criteria focused on fish stock numbers, harvesting methods and aquatic damage. 750 partner organizations including grocery stores and restaurants across Canada label Ocean Wise choices to make sustainable choices easier. Visit the Ocean wise website for consumer guides and a sustainable seafood list.

Seafood Watch – Created by the Monterey Bay Museum in the USA, this program also considers social responsibility and economic sustainability in its recommendations. This takes into consideration the human rights and circumstances of those involved in the fishing industry. Seafood watch accreditation is used more commonly in the States but its consumer guides have useful tips for buyers anywhere.

Marine Conservation Society – One aim of this global organization is to encourage manufacturers to include detailed information regarding seafood origins on packaging. The MCS’s online Good Fish guide is searchable by species enabling you to do a quick check before buying.

Seachoice – This Canadian organization works to influence the seafood supply chain to create more traceability. It recommends customers look out for products certified by either the Marine Stewardship Council or Aquaculture Stewardship Council.

A Quick Guide to Sustainable Seafood Shopping:

So now you know what sustainable means, and why it is important; follow these simple steps to ensure you are making the best choices every time you shop.

  • Ask your local retailer what sustainable fish they have and how they support sustainability. By asking for sustainable seafood, you encourage suppliers to make improvements to the industryA quick guide to sustainable seafood shopping
  • Look for recommendation symbols – from the organizations listed above or a retailers’ own program. 
  • Discover local suppliers – buying local in-season, small-catch seafood, reduces pressure on fishing stocks, has a small carbon footprint and supports local families
  • Educate yourself about what sustainability is and what the best seafood choices are in your area
  • Try something different – choose a less common, local alternative to your usual or choose shellfish which are low on the food chain and reproduce quickly.

Enjoy Your Sustainable Seafood Supper with Van Isle Marina

Looking for a new yacht on which to host your sustainable seafood feast with friends? Contact our sales team who can help you find the vessel with the perfect galley kitchen for your needs.

If you need some recipe inspiration check out these delicious crab cake recipes, which you can make with locally sourced, sustainable BC Dungeness Crab. Else, how about some mouthwatering chowder recipes, halibut recipes, trout recipes or these spot prawn recipes.

If you prefer to catch and harvest your own fish and seafood; make sure you stick to local catch limits. The knowledgeable staff at our Sidney, BC, location will be glad to help advise you on the best places to go for a successful fishing trip.

a guide to green boating in bc

A Guide to Green Boating

How to be an Environmentally Friendly Boater

For boating enthusiasts, simply being on the water brings us joy. However, with that pleasure comes the responsibility to protect the marine environment and preserve it for generations to come. 

The good news is, adopting green boating habits isn’t difficult. Just like the simple steps you’ve taken to be more environmentally friendly on land, green boating can be achieved by making a few changes to your usual routine.

Does Sailing Cause Pollution?

It’s important to recognize that what we do in and with our boats has an impact on aquatic environments. 

Over 700,000 boats sail in the British Columbia waters each year and each of them has the potential to cause environmental damage through:

  • Sewage and grey water dumping: which can pollute our food sourcesgreen boating in bc
  • Fuel and oil spillages: half a litre of oil can produce a slick one acre in size
  • Garbage pollution: plastic and other garbage is often dumped overboard
  • Gas emissions from engines: older vessels can discharge up to 25% of their fuel directly into the water
  • Chemical pollution from cleaning products and paint: cause harmful algae blooms and poison sea-life

The good news is, there’s lots you can do to be a greener boater – and if everyone takes a few small steps it will make a big difference to the health of our marine environment.

How to be a Green Boater

Protecting the marine environment and practicing sustainable boating does require some effort. Use the green boating tips below to get started:

1. Prevent Oil Spills

  • Practice Safe Fuelling – fuelling spillages cause much of the oil pollution in our waters. To prevent drips, use an absorbent bib or collar. Fill your tank slowly to a maximum 90 percent full to allow for expansion. Regularly check your tank and lines for damage.
  • Keep your bilge clean – spilled oil, fuel and other toxic liquids build up in your vessel’s bilge area and can spill into the ocean. Use absorbent pads and pump-out into a designated bilge pumping tank when required. 

If you have an oil or fuel spill, notify the marina or the coast guard immediately, no matter how small it seems.

2. Stop Pollution

  • Dispose of sewage and untreated water safely– black and gray water contains pollutants and soap residues which can impact water quality, poison marine life and encourage algae growth. In Canada, it is illegal to dump sewage within 3 nautical miles from shore.
  • Bring your general waste back – Over 17 billion lbs of plastic enters our oceans each year. Do your part in reducing plastic pollution by bringing all of your garbage back to the dock. 

Use designated sewage pump stations, garbage and recycling facilities at your marina to dispose of waste products. The Georgia Straight Alliance’s Green Boating Guide contains a list of marinas with designated sewerage pumping facilities around Vancouver Island and the southern BC coastlines – including Van Isle Marina in Sidney.

  • Use Non-Toxic cleaning products – phosphorus and nitrogen in some cleaning products may dissolve grime, but they damage the marine ecosystem. Clean your yacht regularly with fresh water to prevent dirt build-up; research eco-friendly cleaning products (or make your own) and follow the dilution instructions.
  • Choose non-toxic Bottom Paint – copper in bottom paint leaches toxins into water as it dissolves. Aluminum-based paint is one more eco-friendly option.

3. Reduce your environmental impact

  • Reduce fuel use – reduce your speed, don’t idle and consider upgrading your engine. You’ll use
    less fuel which reduces pollution and saves money too.
  • Have a regular maintenance routine – tuning up your engine will increase efficiency and catch issues before they can cause environmental damage. Remember to do maintenance on dry land to prevent leakage into water.
  • Upgrade your engine for lower emissions – traditional 2-stroke engines lose up to 25% of unburned fuel directly into the water. Change to a Direct Fuel Injection, a 4-stroke or an electric engine to reduce fuel loss, reduce pollution and save in gas costs.

4. Make the switch to renewable energy

Boating enthusiasts and manufacturers are at the forefront of finding ways that renewable energy technologies can reduce the environmental impact of boating. 

Instead of idling your engine to charge electrical items on board, consider generating your own electricity by installing renewable energy technology such as: 

  • stand-alone solar panel
  • wind generator 
  • water generator 

Check out Sailors for the Sea’s Green Boating guide for more comprehensive advice on environmentally friendly sailing.

The Future of Green Boating

Imagine taking a ride on a boat which is almost silent, doesn’t vibrate with engine rumbles and produces no emissions. These things are possible thanks to rapidly developing electrical engine technology including:

  • Electric outboard motors – these motors are charged via electrical hookup in dock and can provide the speeds and longevity most boaters require.
  • Hybrid Vessels – these vessels combine a traditional combustion engine with an electrical engine, providing the ability to reduce environmental impact while retaining the reassurance of a traditional engine if needed. High performing boats are increasingly being powered this way including superyachts.
  • Solar powered boats – solar panels are used by many boaters to power onboard equipment, but new technological advances mean boat builders are now able to design vessels entirely powered by the sun!

Van Isle Marina Supports Environmentally Friendly Boating

Recognizing that what we do in our boats can impact the waters we love sailing on, Van Isle Marina is proud to offer services to support environmentally friendly boating. Located in Sidney, BC, the marina has a full service haul-out facility to enable out-of-water cleaning and maintenance. Power washing and bottom painting facilities and services are offered, along with ground sheets to prevent waste leakage.

Our state of the art fuel dock includes a holding tank pump-out to prevent oil spillage and we offer a sewage pump as well as complete garbage and recycling facilities on site. Considering an upgrade to a more environmentally friendly yacht? Contact our sales team today.