5 Sustainable Seafood Options on Granville Island


Granville Island's 10th annual Winterruption Festival happened last Saturday and one of the activities was the David Suzuki Foundation & SeaChoice seafood walking tour.

This event featured a walk to the Granville Island fishermens' wharf and market seafood vendors to highlight all of the ocean-friendly seafood choices available on the island.

The first stop our guide led us to was to the lockers - where the fishermen keep their equipment. We were introduced to Skipper Otto's Community Supported Fishery (CSF), which is an organization that connects local fishermen directly to the consumer. How it works is that CSF members buy in at the beginning of the season and receive a share of premium, wild, local, and sustainably caught seafood. Using this model ensures that independent, small-scale harvesters can fish using the low impact practices to provide sustainably caught seafood; us as the consumer will have the confidence in knowing how, when, where and who caught their fish.

Membership to the CSF is $68 (or $38 if you join by Feb 28 for early bird rate) and then you can purchase credit (as little as $100) to trade for any of the CSF's products. They include: whole salmon (sockeye, spring, chum, and pink); sashimi grade salmon fillets (all species); a variety of smoked, candied, and canned salmon products; sashimi grade tuna loins; halibut fillets; spot prawns, and Dungeness crab. Members will then receive notifications on where and when they can pick up their fish at the Fisherman's wharf or other designated places around the lower mainland.

Next to Skipper Otto's was Organic Ocean. They are independent fishermen who believed in ocean-friendly, sustainable and responsible harvesting practices before it became "popular". They believe in quality over quantity and they supply many restaurants around Vancouver, which include Blue Water Cafe, Raincity Grill, Fuel, Campagnolo, and Vij’s. Did you know that seafood has seasons as well? Something may be sustainable in one season may not be suitable to harvest in another part of the year. This is something Organic Ocean is trying to get restaurants to understand - many have set menus and require a type of seafood year round, which is not possible from a ocean-friendly perspective.

To end the talk, they gave us a delicious sample of their wild smoked salmon to try. Mmm!

After listening to Skipper Otto and Organic Ocean, we visited some retail stores - The Lobster Man and their neighbour, Finest At Sea.

As their name implies, The Lobster Man sells lobsters, jet flown daily from Nova Scotia! Did you know that lobsters used to be fed to prisoners? They were considered a garbage food - cockroaches of the sea.

The Lobster Man also sells fresh oysters (for shucking yourself), clams, mussels and other shellfish. They have quite a selection of oysters so you'll be sure to be able find one you like!

They are pretty popular because while we were inside, several people came in to buy shellfish.

Finest At Sea is a provider of the finest quality seafood on the West Coast and again their products are caught through sustainable fishing practices. They also have an in-house smoker.

I bought some of the Candied Salmon Nuggets and they were delicious. I couldn't stop and ate them all while we were standing outside. Hahah. We were also offered a sample of their Candied Sablefish, which was even more delicious! Yum!

 Our last stop on the walking tour was in the Granville Island Public Market - Seafood City!

The vendor introduced us to what they carry; they specialize in wide selection of local in-season seafood but they also carry large amount of specialty products from around the world. If you are looking for something rare, check them first!

He also compared a wild and a sustainably farmed Chinook salmon, which look almost the same - farmed may have more fat than wild. Most people hear "farmed" and automatically think unsustainable. This is not true. There are many ways to sustainably farm salmon - which include on land or lake raised salmon.  

The tour ended at AGRO Cafe where Chef Ian Lai, from North West Culinary Academy of Vancouver, showed us how to make crab cakes from start to finish - starting with cleaning and preparing the crab. Usually he halves the live crab and rids it of the gills and the yellow stuff - the brown meat - which would stain the white meat if left in. 

He added celery for crunch, pepper for a little heat, a little Panko (Japanese-style bread crumbs) for texture and egg white for binding it all together. Chef Ian said that proper crab cakes should fall apart in your mouth. Many restaurants add more binding agents - egg, breadcrumbs - so they can use less crab! O=

Everyone got to try a small crab ball with some kimchi mayonnaise. It was amazing. It fell apart in my mouth just like Chef said it would and I could actually taste the crab!

I learned a lot on this tour and now I know where I'd be able to purchase sustainable seafood when I visit Granville Island! 

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