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Banding together for sustainable seafood

Emma Gilchrist, Calgary Herald

Published: Friday, February 20, 2009

If you try to minimize the environmental impact of the food you eat, you likely know how tricky it can be to source sustainable seafood.

The first step in this epic plight is to visit, where you’ll find a downloadable wallet card of Canada’s Seafood Guide.

The card places seafood into three different categories: best choice, some concerns or avoid. On the SeaChoice website, you can also search the database for specific items, geographical areas and methods of capture.

Bluefin tuna has been so heavily over-fished that the World Conservation Union lists southern bluefin tuna in its grouping of most threatened wildlife. Their numbers have declined by 97 per cent during the last four decades.

Bluefin tuna has been so heavily over-fished that the World Conservation Union lists southern bluefin tuna in its grouping of most threatened wildlife. Their numbers have declined by 97 per cent during the last four decades.

You can even download drop cards to leave in your favourite stores and establishments, urging them to offer sustainable seafood choices.

However, if you’re visiting a Fairmont hotel or resort, you won’t need to drop any hints. The international chain recently announced it will remove threatened fish species, such as Chilean Sea Bass, a. k. a. Patagonia Tooth, and Bluefin Tuna, from its restaurant menus and align itself with reputable seafood watch organizations (such as Canada’s SeaChoice).

By making this commitment, Fairmont exerts considerable pressure for healthier practices, which flows down to suppliers, who then offer better choices to restaurants. (That’s what we call the opposite of a vicious circle.)

Fairmont will also make it easier for guests to make informed food choices by identifying responsible seafood choices on its restaurant menus.

Now, if only the federal government would help ensure seafood in stores and markets is as well-labelled as it will be in Fairmont restaurants!

The David Suzuki Foundation has just launched a campaign that hopes to push us in that direction by calling on federal government officials to implement stricter seafood labelling regulations.

“Canadians across the country are using SeaChoice’s seafood guide to empower them to eat well and to support sustainable fisheries, so that future generations can eat healthy fish too,”writes the foundation in an action call. “However, in order to make best use of the SeaChoice consumer guide, our seafood needs to contain information about exactly what kind of fish it is, where it was caught, how it was caught or farmed and whether it contains any additives or health warnings.”

The foundation is calling on concerned Canadians to send letters asking that Canada create national seafood labelling requirements that allow Canadians to make responsible sustainable seafood choices to: the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, Gail Shea; the Minister of Agriculture, Gerry Ritz; and the president of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, Carole Swan.

Visit and then click on “Conserving our oceans” to send these letters in the click of a mouse.

The foundation also encourages concerned citizens to share their letters with local seafood restaurants and grocery stores so that seafood retailers know what their customers are looking for.

Tell us what you’re doing to protect the environment. E-mail

This recipe, excerpted from A Good Catch by Jill Lambert, comes from Liana Robberecht, executive chef at the Calgary Petroleum Club.

2 ripe cantaloupes, peeled, seeded and roughly chopped

2 tsp (10 ml) olive oil

1/2 tsp (2 ml) grated lemon grass (available at asian food markets and some major grocery stores)

2 tbsp (25 ml) grated fresh ginger

1 tbsp (15 ml)minced shallots

1/2 cup (125 ml) fish stock or chicken stock

1/4 cup (50 ml) plus 1 tbsp (15 ml) sake (Japanese rice wine)

18 spot prawn tails, peeled

1lb (500g)dungeness crabmeat, cooked and picked over for cartilage

3 green onions, green part only, finely chopped

1/4 tsp (1 ml) sambal oelek or hot chili sauce

In a food processor or a blender, puree cantaloupe until smooth, 30 to 40 seconds. set aside.

Heat 1 tsp (5 ml) of the olive oil in a saucepan on medium heat.

Add lemon grass, ginger and half of the shallots and saute for about 1 minute. stir in fish (or chicken) stock and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 1 hour.

Strain the stock through a fine-mesh sieve and discard any solids.

Return the stock to the saucepan, add the cantaloupe puree and the 1/4 cup (50 ml) of sake and reduce for 30 minutes on low heat.

Season with salt and pepper, being careful not to add too much salt. (the crabmeat is salty.)

Cover with a lid and keep warm on low heat.

Heat a frying pan on medium heat. add the remaining olive oil and shallots and saute for 1 minute.

Stir in spot prawns and the remaining sake and saute until spot prawns are just cooked, 1 to 2 minutes.

Add crabmeat and toss gently to warm through, then remove from the heat.

In a small bowl, gently combine green onions, sambal oelek (or chili sauce) and the seafood mixture.

To Serve: ladle hot cantaloupe soup into individual bowls. spoon one-sixth of the seafood mixture into the middle of each bowl, then serve and enjoy immediately.

serves 6.